Months before New Jersey residents are set to vote on a marijuana legalization referendum, the state’s Department of Health announced on Thursday that it will allow medical cannabis dispensaries to deliver products to patients.
The policy change is partly meant as a social distancing measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus but it’s also part of the implementation of a broader delivery provision of a cannabis bill Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed last year.
Dispensaries will be able to submit plans to the department in order to qualify for the waiver, which has been characterized as a “significant first step” toward enacting more wide-ranging legislation.
Employees involved in deliveries must undergo criminal background checks. Additionally, vehicles used for deliveries must be “equipped with security measures, including GPS tracking and a secure lock box,” according to a press release.
“The Department continues to prioritize patient access during this unprecedented pandemic,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. “This new waiver will allow [dispensaries], once they have submitted a plan to the Department for approval, to deliver across the state.”
Today, DOH issued a waiver to allow medical marijuana Alternative Treatment Centers to provide home delivery!
— NJDOH (@NJDeptofHealth) June 25, 2020
The department also said that cannabis shops will have to provide workers with protective equipment and training on conducting deliveries safely amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The waiver is the latest in a series of policies put in place by the Department to ease barriers to accessing dispensaries for patients and caregivers,” the release states. “In March, the Department reduced all caregiver fees to $20, allowed telephonic consultations, increased options for discounts, and authorized curbside dispensing.”
New Jersey is the latest to change its policies on marijuana deliveries amid the health crisis.
Medical cannabis dispensaries in Washington, D.C. are able to provide cannabis deliveries as well as curbside and at-the-door pickup under a temporary policy enacted in April because of the coronavirus pandemic .
Louisiana also moved to allow for cannabis delivery services specifically because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Deliveries for medical marijuana launched in certain Colorado cities in March, but that had already been in the works under legislation enacted last year and the timing was coincidental.
Delaware is moving to allow deliveries of medical cannabis as well amid coronavirus, but regulators plan to continue that program following the health crisis as well.
Louisiana regulators moved to temporarily allow delivery services, though the sponsor of a bill the governor signed this month to expand the state’s medical cannabis program believes they will extend it permanently.
The Oklahoma legislature approved a wide-ranging medical marijuana bill last month that included a delivery provision, but the governor vetoed it and legislatures declined to vote on an override.
Separate from the delivery action, the New Jersey legislature approved a cannabis decriminalization bill earlier this month ahead of a statewide referendum on legalizing marijuana for adult use.
Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.