Michigan dispensaries urge Gov. Whitmer to classify marijuana as 'essential' to avoid a shutdown due to coronavirus 

click to enlarge STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling

Michigan’s marijuana industry is urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to classify marijuana as an “essential item” to ensure that it remains available as the state continues to take steps to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

So far, the state has allowed dispensaries to remain open, and on Monday, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency encouraged the cannabis businesses to provide curbside and delivery services to promote social-distancing.

On Monday, Whitmer ordered the closure of other facilities, such as restaurants, theaters, coffee shops, recreation centers, and gyms.

In a letter to Whitmer on Wednesday, the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association (MCIA) also called on the governor to give doctors permission to “evaluate patients and write recommendations for both new medical marijuana patients and renewing patients using telecommunications.”

Nearly 265,000 Michigan residents have a medical marijuana license.

“Studies have shown that cannabis can reduce anxiety and stress and we believe continued access to this product during this time is pertinent,” MCIA Executive Director Robin Schneider wrote. “More importantly, patients with cancer, AIDS, chronic pain, seizures, and pediatric patients have reduced or replaced pharmaceuticals, including opiates, with medical cannabis.”

Without access to medical cannabis, Schneider says patients will begin relying on a medical system already struggling to keep up with the demand because of the coronavirus.

“Our medical system needs to be available to prioritize the coronavirus pandemic and must not be bombarded by medical marijuana patients returning for traditional treatment in case they lose access to their medical cannabis,” Schneider said.

Dispensaries are beginning to offer curbside services. The Greenhouse of Walled Lake, which sells both recreational and medical marijuana, plans to begin curbside service Friday and is exploring delivery options. The popular dispensary is limiting curbside service to medical patients and may extend it to recreational customers in a week or two, says Greenhouse owner Jerry Millen.

"Medical patients have always been there for us, and I will be here for them as much as humanly as possible," Millen tells Metro Times.

Herbology in River Rouge is now offering curbside, delivery, and online order services. Skymint, which has six dispensaries across the state, also began offering curbside pickup for all online orders.

“Once you arrive at our store, please text us back with your vehicle make/model and we will bring your order out to you,” Skymint texted customers and patients on Thursday morning.

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