Atomazul via shutterstock

HARTFORD, CT – The state is making adjustments to its medical marijuana program to ensure its clients are getting their medicine during the COVOID-19 crisis.

Gov. Ned Lamont recently signed Executive Order 7L. The executive order, among other things, made some changes to the Medical Marijuana Program in order to support facilities facing staffing shortages, and make it easier for patients to access their medication during this public health emergency.

Lamont also signed another executive order Thursday, which allows home delivery of beer and liquor to reduce the need for customers to leave their home. It was also an attempt to help save the more than 100 craft breweries in the state. A previous executive order forced craft brewers to close their taprooms and only offer take-out.

“We’re proud to see so many of our breweries quickly adapting to the circumstances and rising to the occasion to keep their employees and communities safe,” Phil Pappas, executive director of the Craft Brewers Guild, said. “We’re grateful to Governor Lamont and his administration for stepping up to grant our breweries this ability, as it comes at a critical time for our CT breweries who are seeking every opportunity to provide freshly brewed beer to the masses, and provides a much needed revenue stream for our local businesses.”

At least one craft brewery, Hanging Hills in Hartford, closed its doors last week.

In a message on its Facebook page it wrote that it closed its tap room on March 12 to the public and then saw the bulk of its distribution pipeline shut down.

“While we would’ve preferred to go out with a banging party, the virus ended that hope and we opted for the measured response,” they wrote.

State officials said they want to make sure patients are able to get their medical marijuana during this time.

“This effort is a priority of ours, as we want to ensure that this program continues to be treated as a true medical program that supports so many people with severe conditions and their families,” the Department of Consumer Protection said in a press release.

Here’s what the executive order does for qualifying patients:

Physicians and APRNs may certify via telehealth in order to ensure that patients don’t need to see someone in person to get certified.

Registration renewals are extended by 90 days for all registrations that expire before June 1st.

If a medical marijuana patient needs a replacement certificate because their current certificate has been lost or damaged, DCP will provide a replacement registration certificate without a fee.

The executive order also allows dispensary and lab employees to switch locations of employment during this emergency if they notify DCP about any permanent changes in employment.

Dispensary facility managers may reduce their weekly hours and single facility managers may manage more than one facility under common ownership if a manager of one facility is unable to manage their workload because of COVID-19.

In addition to the provisions of the executive order, DCP has also worked closely with dispensary facilities to ensure they have safe, approved procedures for curbside pick up in order to limit contact with patients and caregivers.

“We will continue to work as hard as we can to ensure patients have the safest access to their medication possible, and to maintain the integrity of our program during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rodrick Marriott director of the drug division for the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP).

There are more than 41,000 patients signed up to use medical marijuana. There are 14 medical dispensaries now operating in the state.

Patients with 22 debilitating conditions or diseases may qualify for the program. Children under the age of 18 also qualify under six conditions.

Connecticut is among the many states that have made adjustments to their medical marijuana programs to ensure patients can get medicine during the pandemic.

Two nearby states with medical marijuana programs have also required medical marijuana dispensaries to stay open. 

In New Jersey on March 21, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered residents to “stay at home” and the closure of non-essential businesses. But, “with the exceptions of … Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries.”

And in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo classified medical marijuana dispensaries as essential businesses.