Updated on October 4, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Approximately 334,000 Florida residents are medical marijuana card holders. The impact of the COVID-19 public health measures could have made accessing medical cannabis more difficult. Was it not for the efforts that have been made by physicians and cannabis dispensaries?
Florida marijuana doctors who provide evaluations for medical cannabis, moved to online assessments. This was a rapid pivot from in-office evaluations to video conferencing methods. Special HIPAA-compliant software was required for each physician.
Industry analysts predicted a drop in the volume of medical cannabis dispensed in Florida. Because of the impact of COVID-19. What they could not predict was the response patients would have, when it seemed dispensaries would be closed. Like other non-essential retail services for public health and safety.
The COVID-19 Bulk Buying and Stockpiling Effect in Florida
Florida experienced the effect of consumers purchasing as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. It was not just toilet paper that Floridians were buying in larger quantities. They wanted to make sure they did not run out of medical marijuana.
The “Stay At Home” order was issued by Florida lawmakers on April 1, 2020. Florida Legislature and the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) had omitted the medical cannabis dispensaries from that order. But they had also not confirmed the “Essential Service” designation. Until April 2020, dispensary owners were not certain whether they needed to be closed legally, or not.
Medical marijuana is an important part of daily health therapeutics for Florida patients. Every qualifying health condition that allows a Florida resident to be a card carrier has debilitating symptoms. Patients who were economically able to “stock up” on medical cannabis purchased in bulk from dispensaries.
The State of Massachusetts issued an order to close all Adult Use sales and dispensaries. However medical cannabis locations were able to remain open with online ordering and curbside pick-up.
Regulated Sales of Medical Marijuana in Florida Are Up 30%
Medical marijuana sales have increased in other states as well, during the COVID-19 health emergency. A testament to how quickly the legalized medical marijuana industry can pivot procedurally. While still remaining compliant with all state regulations.
Nevada was one of the states that posted a reduction in medical marijuana sales (-2%). With the significant drop in tourism to Nevada (gaming and casinos are not essential services), it is not surprising to see a reduction in demand.
Now that it is known that medical cannabis dispensaries can stay open as an “Essential Service,” the sales peak may drop in May and June. Patients in Florida are now confident they will be able to access their medical cannabis without any problem.
Other analysts have suggested that, with millions of Americans unemployed, the sales figures for May and June will be even larger. There is still a great deal of uncertainty about the COVID-19 virus and further impacts on public health and safety. Some say that Americans will continue “stocking up” as a contingency plan.