Delaware Approves Weed Deliveries Under Emergency COVID-19 Order
Delaware just issued an emergency order that will allow the delivery of medical marijuana to people’s doorsteps amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Office of Medical Marijuana is not establishing this as a convenience option,” Paul Hyland, the director of Delaware’s Office of Medical Marijuana, told Marijuana Moment in an email, “but as a stop-gap system to allow homebound and the most vulnerable patients to obtain products safely.”
Furthermore, unlike some of the states that previously ordered emergency weed delivery services, Delaware’s regulators plan to make this option permanent after the COVID-19 crisis ends.
“Once the [state of emergency] is over, the Office of Medical Marijuana will work to create the proper regulatory and operational framework to standardize delivery across the program,” Hyland explained to Marijuana Moment. “Prior to the impacts of COVID-19, the Office of Medical Marijuana was already in initial discussions with compassion center vendors on how to operate a delivery service in Delaware. This planning phase is on pause until the pandemic is over, but at that time the OMM will create a more defined delivery program.”
Currently, only one company, Columbia Care, has the state’s permission to make weed deliveries in Delaware. Columbia Care has locations in Rehoboth Beach, Smyrna, and Wilmington, and should begin making deliveries sometime this week.
Although Wilmington is the state’s most populous city, just three cities allowing cannabis deliveries will likely not be enough to supply all of the state’s patients.
“I would like to convey that this one center will not be able to meet the demands of the 12,000+ current patients” in Delaware, said Laura Sharer, the state’s director at NORML. “I would urge patients to only facilitate this service if they must, reminding that some patients are homebound and this would be their only option.” She said she hoped more dispensaries would get the greenlight for deliveries to expand patient access during the state-ordered stay-at-home lockdown.
NORML wasn’t all criticism, though. The organization also praised Delaware’s latest move. “This is historic advocacy action,” Sharer wrote. “To have expressed an urgent need and have it quickly met is not something that has happened within [Delaware’s medical marijuana] program before. I truly applaud our state officials for stepping up to meet patients’ needs.”
As the coronavirus pandemic has led to state closures of non-essential services, both medical and marijuana companies have been allowed to remain in operation as “essential” or “critical” businesses in states that legalized weed. Michigan and Illinois began pot deliveries within the past several weeks amid the COVID-19 crisis. Nevada, which had limited deliveries prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, expanded delivery services by state law so all dispensaries could send drivers out to adults’ homes.
Meanwhile, Ohio recently changed its regulations to convert all medical dispensaries into “drive-thru” or “walk-up” services. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said last week that he is considering temporary permission for weed deliveries, too.
Colorado, the first US state to launch sales of regulated recreational marijuana, has only issued one marijuana delivery license to a single medical dispensary in Boulder. While many pot shops have remained open in the Centennial State by offering curbside sales, last week the state reinstated in-store sales so long as customers and staff maintained six-feet of distance among one another, and only one customer could enter the sales area at a time.