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Washington D.C. Medicinal Cannabis Dispensaries Can Now Deliver During COVID-19


Washington, D.C. is allowing the delivery and curbside pick-up of medicinal cannabis during COVID-19.

D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser and the Department of Health made the announcement on Monday, April 13: “This…is necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the District’s residents reducing the spread of COVID-19 by enabling District of Columbia residents registered as qualifying patients to obtain medical marijuana while also adhering to social distancing guidelines and the District of Columbia Stay at Home Order,” the emergency rulemaking reads.

The order ends 45 days after D.C.’s public health emergency regarding COVID-19 is lifted or on August 12.

D.C.’s seven medicinal cannabis dispensaries had been declared essential businesses during the pandemic. A March 30 report from the D.C. Health shows that the district has a total of 6,309 registered patients (3,447 male, 2,862 female) with the largest number between the ages of 31-42 (30%) and 21% between ages 43-54, 20% between 55-66, and 16% 67 or older. That means that 36% of D.C.’s medicinal cannabis patients are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

The rules regarding delivery and curbside pick-up are similar to those introduced by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission last month with some additional restrictions.

D.C. dispensaries are allowed to request electronic payment before delivery or pick-up, are allowed to say they only take electronic payments, and can “limit the areas to which the dispensary will deliver.” Dispensaries that will have curbside pick-up or allow patients to come to the front door of a dispensary to obtain cannabis must make sure transactions are “clearly captured on the dispensary’s video surveillance system.” If the dispensary cannot do this, then they cannot do curbside delivery or front door pick-up.

Dispensaries must also have a process for verifying a patients’ status before delivery and must keep a record of that patient information and delivery. Each dispensary can only have one vehicle delivering and a driver can only make up to 10 deliveries in one drive and the delivery vehicle cannot have more than $5,000 in cash or product in it at once. Its deliveries can only occur between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Dispensaries have to register the vehicles they will be using for delivering cannabis with the Health Department and drivers have to register as well. The vehicles have to have a GPS so that they are using the most direct delivery route. The vehicles used for deliveries cannot have any advertisements on them or anything else that shows they’re delivering cannabis. 

The ability to deliver provided by the emergency rulemaking is something that those in the medicinal cannabis industry in D.C. have wanted long before COVID-19. Namely, delivery allows medicinal dispensaries to employ the same distribution system that pre-COVID-19, was only afforded to the district’s gray market cannabis gifting/delivering. It is likely a first step toward allowing medicinal cannabis delivery in D.C. all of the time.

Image by Lukasz Stefanski / Courtesy Shutterstock

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