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Where Cannabis Dispensaries Are Open Amid COVID-19 Closures

In the global effort to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, local and national governments have placed recommended and mandatory restrictions on movement, public gatherings, ordered businesses shuttered. Additional restrictions have been placed on how those businesses are allowed to operate.

Built into many of those coronavirus policies are exceptions for medical services and essential services. A majority of Americans believe medical marijuana is an essential service, a recent poll found. How about adult-use dispensaries?

In many US states where medical cannabis is legal, dispensaries have been declared essential. In Canada, dispensaries have been allowed to keep operating in almost every province and territory, but with varying guidelines.

In order to help keep medical cannabis patients informed of whether and how they can continue to access their medicine during these worrying times, The Cannabis has compiled a list of every state’s policy toward cannabis during the COVID-19 crisis.

This page will be updated regularly.

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United States

Alaska

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Medical Only: No

Marijuana dispensaries made the list of essential businesses that can remain open despite the hunker-down order issued by Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz in March, as they are considered health care operations. On April 17th, the state’s Marijuana Control Board adopted a new policy change to allow dispensaries to provide curbside pickup of marijuana products. The new regulation will expire on August 14th.
More on cannabis in Alaksa

Arizona

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Arizona’s medical dispensaries have been ruled essential services that can stay open despite closure orders. Many have nonetheless altered their operations, instituting earlier closing hours and expanding their to-go offerings, among other measures.
More about cannabis in Arizona

Arkansas

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Medical cannabis sales have soared in recent weeks in Arkansas, where dispensaries have not been subject to any state-mandated closure orders. Department of Finance Spokesman Scott Hardin said dispensaries don’t need state approval to start delivery services which are expected to expand in the coming weeks.
More about cannabis in Arkansas

California

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

Cannabis dispensaries are able to remain open in California under the COVID-19 lockdowns, as essential services like medical providers. In a post published by the Bureau of Cannabis Control on March 21st, the Bureau highlighted California Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order from March 19th, and stated that the closures do not apply to dispensaries “because cannabis is an essential medicine for many residents.”
More about cannabis in California

Colorado

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

Colorado Governor Jared Polis on March 22 ruled that marijuana dispensaries are “critical” and can stay open. Under the order, which expires on April 11, in-person sales are only allowed for medical patients, and recreational customers must place orders in advance for curbside pickup. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on March 23 issued an order classifying only medical dispensaries as essential, effectively closing recreational dispensaries. He walked back the decision later the same day, saying the businesses could stay open if they practiced “extreme physical distancing” inside their stores. One Colorado dispensary has been awarded a delivery permit but it is very limited (only medical and only in Boulder for now).
More about cannabis in Colorado

Connecticut

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

On March 20, Governor Ned Lamont issued a stay at home order that exempts “essential health care operations” including hospital, clinics, pharmacies and “any other healthcare related supplies or services.” Medical marijuana dispensaries and producers can remain open under the order.
More about cannabis in Connecticut

Delaware

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

The state’s medical marijuana dispensaries are considered essential and can remain open, according to an email the Delaware Division of Public Health sent The Cannigma.
More about cannabis in Delaware

District of Columbia

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: Yes

Under Mayor Muriel Bowser’s closure order from March 24, medical marijuana dispensaries are classified as essential businesses and can remain open. Recreational marijuana sales are legal in DC, but there are no dispensaries that have opened in the city.
More about cannabis in Washington DC

Florida

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Marijuana dispensaries are allowed to stay open in the Sunshine State during mass COVID-19 closures as they are considered healthcare providers and thus, essential businesses. Drivers are able to deliver cannabis, and are reportedly carrying a letter from the state surgeon general saying they are providing a critical service and can violate curfews. Florida only has medical dispensaries.
More about cannabis in Florida

Hawaii

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

All eight licensed dispensaries in Hawaii remain open, according to the state Department of Health. Governor David Ige on March 23 announced a stay at home order, but it exempts medical cannabis dispensaries and cannabis production and agriculture As of March 23, the state’s office for patient registry has had only a limited number of people in office, and patients are requested to send all queries by email instead of in person. The state’s dispensaries have launched a number of safety measures, including encouraging pre-order and pick-up, and allowing special hours for senior customers. Info about each dispensary can be found here.
More about cannabis in Hawaii

Illinois

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

Medical cannabis providers are considered essential health care and public health operations under Governor J.B. Pritzker’s stay at home order issued on March 20th. Marijuana production and agriculture is also permitted as “essential infrastructure” under the order.

The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation on March 16 issued a variance stating that medical cannabis dispensaries can process orders outside of the “restricted access area” until March 30th, thus allowing them to take orders from patients waiting in their vehicles and then to process the order and bring the products to the customer. Some recreational dispensaries in the Chicago area halted their operations as of one week ago, though others have stayed open and provide curbside or parking lot service.
More about cannabis in Illinois

Louisiana

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a stay at home order on March 23, which lists healthcare and public health services as essential services. Dispensaries may stay open in the state for now.
More about cannabis in Louisiana

Maine

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: No
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Under an executive order issued on March 23, all businesses must cease their “public facing functions” or any operations that require more than 10 employees on site. The state has not issued any updates on the Office of Marijuana Policy Website regarding closures. The state’s Wellness Connection chain of dispensaries told the Cannigma on March 29, 2020 that it is doing online orders and curbside pickup and only allowing one person into the dispensary at a time.
More about cannabis in Maine

Maryland

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to remain open in Maryland, but the Medical Cannabis Commission has implemented a number of measures, including allowing on-site delivery (to a parking lot, for instance) pick up and drive-thru, and suspending the deli-style sales (sniff jars) and suspending the need for patient signatures at point of sale. Card renewals can also be sent by tele-medicine for the time being. On March 24, Governor Larry Hogan issued a closure order which ruled that medical cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries may remain open.
More about cannabis in Maryland

Massachusetts

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: Yes

The Cannabis Control Commission of the commonwealth of Massachusetts on March 23rd issued an order closing all adult-use dispensaries from March 24th to April 7th. On Monday, Governor Charlie Baker issued an order closing all nonessential business in the state. The order stipulates that medical facilities, including licensed medical marijuana retailers, are allowed to remain open. Advocates and industry leaders have protested the move, noting that liquor stores are still allowed to remain open.
More about cannabis in Massachusetts

Michigan

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

Under an order issued by the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency on March 16, all medical and recreational dispensaries can provide home delivery services. The agency also said they are allowing curbside pickup for the time being. Under the stay at home order issued by Governor Gretchen Whitmer health care and public health facilities can stay open, including dispensaries. The state is also temporarily allowing dispensaries to process curbside and home delivery sales also to individuals with expired ID.
More about cannabis in Michigan

Minnesota

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Healthcare and public health services are allowed to remain open under the stay at home order issued by Governor Tim Walz on March 25th. According to the dispensary chain Vireo Health, all of their locations remain open as essential services. On March 31, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed an executive order to extend re-certification dates for medical cannabis patients that would otherwise be set to expire. The order allows patients to appoint a temporary caregiver to get their medicine for them, and allows providers to do curbside delivery in order to maintain social distancing.
More about cannabis in Minnesota

Missouri

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: n/a
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Despite having legalized medical cannabis in 2018, Missouri Still doesn’t have dispensaries.
More about cannabis in Missouri

Montana

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Montana’s dispensaries have been allowed to remain open as medical service providers, though companies are adopting safety measures such as pick-up and drive thru purchases. Governor Steve Bullock issued a shelter-in-place order on March 26 that listed licensed medical cannabis dispensaries and licensed cannabis cultivation centers among the health care and public health operations that can continue to operate.
More about cannabis in Montana

Nevada

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

Marijuana dispensaries in Nevada were included in the list of essential businesses allowed to stay open under a closure order issued by Governor Steve Sisolak on March 20. That order initially ruled that all of the state’s 68 dispensaries must close their storefronts and move to a delivery-only model with no curbside pickup is allowed. Starting May 1st, dispensaries will be able to provide curbside pickup, as a result of a new loosening of regulations ordered by the Governor. All orders must be placed in advance and no in-person ordering is allowed. Customers are not allowed to exit their vehicle, and all passengers are asked for identification during the transactions, which are filmed.
More about cannabis in Nevada

New Hampshire

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Governor Chris Sununu on March 26th ordered all non-essential businesses in the Granite State to close their doors through May 4th, though he included an exception for health care establishments. Marijuana dispensaries remain open under this distinction.
More about cannabis in New Hampshire

New Jersey

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Medical marijuana dispensaries remain open in New Jersey and can now provide curbside service to patients. The state has also eased the process for first-time patient consultations, and are allowing Alternative Treatment Centers (dispensaries) to do such consultations over the phone. Governor Phil Murphy’s closure order from March 21 specifically listed pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries among essential businesses.
More about cannabis in New Jersey

New Mexico

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program Director Dr. Dominick Zurlo said in a letter to medical cannabis producers, patients, and stakeholders that dispensaries are considered essential health services and can stay open under the state emergency health order. Zurlo also recommended that providers use pick-up, curb-side, or delivery services.
More about cannabis in New Mexico

New York 

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Under the executive order “New York State on PAUSE” issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 20th, “essential health care operations” are among the businesses or entities that are allowed to remain open during the COVID-19 outbreak. This applies to marijuana dispensaries as well, which, according to New York Department of Health guidelines issued on March 17th “are allowed to remain open because they are considered medical providers.” The directive also stated that until April 16, organizations that have been approved to deliver medical marijuana to patients may expand statewide without prior approval.
More about cannabis in New York

North Dakota

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Dispensaries in North Dakota during the COVID-19 lock-downs, and all of the state’s eight dispensaries remain open, the state’s Division of Medical Marijuana confirmed to The Cannigma by email. Locations and times of operation can be found here.
More about cannabis in North Dakota

Ohio

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are considered essential services under the stay at home order issued by Governor Mike DeWine on March 22. Medical marijuana growers and processors can also continue to go to work despite the order. The state is also now allowing patients to phone in their orders and pick them up from dispensaries.
More about cannabis in Ohio

Oklahoma

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to remain open and provide curbside pickup following a decision by Oklahoma state officials late last week. Delivery is not allowed under Oklahoma law. As essential businesses, dispensaries are not subject to closure under Governor Kevin Stitt’s order.
More about cannabis in Oklahoma

Oregon

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: No
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) on Sunday ruled that cannabis dispensaries can provide curbside pickup as a temporary measure to allow businesses to stay open and still adhere to social distancing measures. The move allows cannabis retailers to carry out transactions within 150 feet of their stores. The state has not issued an edict defining dispensaries as essential, but they have not been forced to shut as part of the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
More about cannabis in Oregon

Pennsylvania

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Medical marijuana dispensaries are considered health care providers and are thus essential businesses like pharmacies. They are thus allowed to stay open despite Governor Tom Wolf’s order closing all “non-life sustaining businesses” in the state.
More about cannabis in Pennsylvania

Puerto Rico

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Medical cannabis dispensaries are exempt from the mandatory shutdown put into order on March 15, which closed all non-essential businesses. According to the Puerto Rico Department of Health, all medical marijuana establishments may cultivate, manufacture, sell, dispatch or transport products, but must be open only between the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
More about cannabis in Puerto Rico

Rhode Island

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Medical marijuana dispensaries (“compassion centers”) are considered “critical retail businesses” under Governor Gina Raimondo’s order on March 28, and can remain open.
More about cannabis in Rhode Island

Utah

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: n/a

Health care and public health workers are considered critical infrastructure workers under Utah’s COVID 19 closure order.
More about cannabis in Utah

Vermont

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: Yes

Under Vermont’s stay at home order, healthcare providers are considered essential and can continue their operations. Dispensaries are allowing curbside pickups and delivery, according to one report.
More about cannabis in Vermont

Washington

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

Cannabis dispensaries are considered essential businesses and are exempt from Governor Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order issued last week. The state’s liquor control board specified that cannabis retailers can temporarily allow curbside sales to recreational customers in addition to medical customers, but drive-thru windows are still not allowed.
More about cannabis in Washington


Canada

Alberta

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

The government of Alberta published guidelines defining essential services, which, under its retail section, included “Liquor and cannabis retail outlets, manufacturers and producers as well as warehousers, distributors and AGLC operations, as well as vape shops.”

British Columbia

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

Under the province’s COVID-19 closure order, services that are “essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning” can remain open. Among other things, these include all health care and health service providers. Liquor stores and cannabis dispensaries are included among these services, according to the province’s Liquor Distribution Branch

Manitoba

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

Under a public health order issued in late March, businesses “with a retail endorsement, or a retail cannabis licence or that is authorized by the Government of Canada to produce cannabis,” are allowed to remain open.

New Brunswick

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

Cannabis stores are allowed to remain open in New Brunswick under the COVID-19 closure. Many stores are carrying out online ordering with pick and express shipping allowed, as well as door-to-door delivery.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

Brick and mortar cannabis and vape stores were ordered closed in Newfoundland and Labrador but they can still sell products online.

Northwest Territories

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

The Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) stated in late March that the province’s five liquor stores can remain open and process cannabis and liquor sales, but with reduced hours in order to ensure staff availability and safety. Mail order services are still available though hours and availability may be restricted.

Nova Scotia

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

All of the province’s liquor and cannabis stores are open but operating on reduced hours.

Nunavut

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

Provincial authorities issued a public health order on March 20 that banned all public gatherings and parks, as well as non-essential businesses. Are facilities operated by the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission are exempt from the order.

Ontario

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

On March 23rd, the government of Ontario announced that “cannabis stores and cannabis producers” were among the essential workplaces that could stay open during the closures. On April 7th, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario authorized cannabis dispensaries in the province to offer delivery and curbside pick-up for 14 days. The AGCO said the temporary measure was approved “to help fight against the illegal cannabis market.” The measure allowed delivery and pickup from Monday through Sunday from 9am to 11pm. The move reversed one from late March, which removed cannabis storefronts from the essential services list.

Prince Edward Island

As of March 19th, all brick-and-mortar cannabis retail stores in Prince Edward Island were closed until further notice. Online purchases appeared to still be possible.

Quebec

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

The government of Quebec has included storefronts run by the Société québécoise du cannabis to remain open as “priority commercial enterprises” during the COVID-19 closures.

Saskatchewan

  • Dispensaries Declared Essential: Yes
  • Applies to Medical Only: No

The government of Saskatchewan in late March issued a public health act that restricted public gatherings and closed non-essential businesses. Health care and public health workers are considered essential, as are specific retail services, including “stores selling beer, wine, liquor or cannabis products.” The province is also allowing private cannabis retailers to partner with private delivery partners.

Yukon

The government of the Yukon has determined that services “critical to preserving life, health, and basic societal functioning can remain open,” including the health sector. By email, an official from the government of the province said “cannabis stores are allowed to remain open and yes they are considered an essential service.”

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