Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said on Wednesday that access to medical marijuana for patients should be prioritized amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Asked about reported shortages of cannabis at dispensaries in his home state of New Jersey, Booker said “I’m one of the leaders on lifting the federal restrictions on marijuana usage” in the Senate and “I’ve been pushing for it in the state.”
While the former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate then said that “of all the things I’m concerned with right now, access to marijuana is not one of them” he quickly pivoted to clarify that is true “except for to the extent that it is something that people need for their health and wellbeing like all prescription drugs.”
Senator Cory Booker responded to Kyle Mazza's questions on the issue involving Bergen County Jail with immigrants during the #COVID19 Outbreak and a question involving medical marijuana dispensaries running low on medicine amidst #Coronavirus @CoryBooker @SenBooker pic.twitter.com/7MFOvcTJHX
— Kyle Mazza (@KyleMazzaWUNF) April 8, 2020
“Again, we have a lot to do in New Jersey to visit upon this issue, but for people that need it for their post-traumatic stress, for the seizures that they may have, for serious medical conditions, I’m hoping we prioritize those people so they can get the medicine they need,” Booker said.
While New Jersey patients are experiencing longer lines and limitations on how much they can purchase from dispensaries due to COVID-19, a top regulator said last week that there are no product shortages.
In November, New Jersey voters will decide on a recreational marijuana legalization referendum placed on the ballot by the legislature.
While Booker said that his focus is on prioritizing patient access, most states that have legalized recreational marijuana are also allowing retail shops to continue operating, and some have implemented policies to allow or encourage curbside pickup and delivery services amid calls for social distancing.
A majority of Americans agree that medical cannabis dispensaries should be considered essential, according to a recent poll.
Also on Wednesday, a coalition of marijuana industry groups sent a letter to governors and regulators, thanking them for deeming dispensaries to be essential services. Additionally, they said states should allow home deliveries, curbside pickup, and recommendations via telemedicine while removing or reducing caregiver application fees, among other steps during the pandemic.
Photo courtesy of Senate Democrats.