Gov. Tim Walz (D) has taken important steps to preserve safe access to medical cannabis during this time of social distancing. Medical cannabis businesses have been allowed to remain open during the stay-at-home order. By executive order, the governor is permitting curbside pickup and telemedicine, and he has pushed back expiration dates on patient certifications and is allowing temporary caregivers.
While we commend the governor for these important measures, we are disappointed he has not allowed home delivery during the crisis. Please take a moment to thank the governor for what he’s already done, while urging him to allow delivery.
In the face of the pandemic, we are advised to stay at home and — when it’s necessary to go out — to maintain at least six feet of distance from others. During these difficult times, the safest way to obtain medical cannabis is contactless delivery. Medical cannabis patients shouldn’t have to put themselves in danger to access the medicine they depend on.
After you write the governor, you can go the extra mile by spreading the word to others, calling his office at 651-201-3400, or making an appeal on Twitter.
Legalization Appears Stalled Due to the Virus
When this year’s legislative session convened in February, there were high hopes that the House of Representatives would approve legalization this year. House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) was expected to introduce a comprehensive legalization proposal based on principles he outlined that reflected stakeholder input, including from his "Be Heard on Cannabis" tour over the fall and winter.
Since then, life changed dramatically. Efforts to prevent transmission of novel coronavirus stalled legislative action. The legislature convened briefly in late March for a coronavirus relief bill, but it has otherwise recessed until mid-April. It appears we’ll need to shift our focus to passing in 2021.
Unfortunately, leadership in the Senate is behind the times. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) has said the Republican caucus is strongly opposed. However, the entire legislature will be on the ballot in November, so there’s an opportunity to elect more lawmakers that recognize the folly of prohibition.
Stay tuned for a voter guide and opportunities to get engaged.
Fortunately, medical cannabis businesses have been deemed “essential” under the order and remain open to patients across the District.
Still, there are additional actions that could be taken to ensure patients can safely access their medicine in a way that is consistent with public health guidelines on preventing the spread of coronavirus:
- Allowing and encouraging cannabis delivery, including allowing for it to be contactless. (This is particularly important for patients who are immunocompromised, elderly, or otherwise particularly at-risk.)
- Allowing and encouraging online ordering and curbside pickup from dispensaries
- Extending the expiration date of medical cannabis cards until after the crisis has abated
A number of states with medical cannabis programs have already implemented these measures in response to coronavirus.
You can also sign our petition for safe access in times of coronavirus here.
Thank you for your compassion. We wish you and your loved ones well.
As governments today respond to COVID-19, it’s critical that medical patients maintain access to cannabis for medical use. This is particularly true in Alaska, and we are asking for your help.
Please join with us in asking Gov. Mike Dunleavy to ensure that cannabis businesses, which serve patients along with adult consumers, are included as essential businesses. Click here to send a message to the governor to thank him for keeping businesses open so far and to ask for his support on behalf of patients all around the state.
As of today, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, California, Illinois, Michigan, Maine, Maryland, and Nevada, along with a long list of medical-only states, have declared that retail cannabis establishments are “essential services.” That designation helps ensure access even if there is a stay-at-home order. Alaska’s governor has not yet extended that protection to cannabis businesses, leaving patients and consumers vulnerable. Without a home delivery option, patients and consumers would simply be cut off if retail shops closed. That should not be acceptable, and the governor should hear that message. Help us get word to his office.
The flip side is for all of us in the cannabis movement to remember that in many ways, we are also stewards of health. Businesses should consider measures to help ensure the well-being of their patients and customers through social distancing and good business practices.
- Our own letter to the governor is available here.
- The Alaska Marijuana Industry Association’s great letter and recommendations for businesses is here.
- A chart we put together that compares different state approaches in response to COVID-19 is here.
- The link to get word to the Alaska governor’s office on this issue is here.
Please stay safe, and mind your health and the health of this community.