A group representing cannabis companies in Michigan is pleading with the state’s governor to classify marijuana as an “essential item” during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a letter Wednesday to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association asked for the reclassification, which it said would also include “designating state licensed growers, processors, safety compliance facilities, secure transporters and provisioning centers essential businesses to ensure our industry is able to meet the needs of patients.”
The Michigan Cannabis Industry Association represents nearly 200 licensed marijuana businesses in the state, according to MLive.com. The group also called on Whitmer to permit physicians to see patients via telecommunications.
“Studies have shown that cannabis can reduce anxiety and stress and we believe continued access to this product during this time is pertinent,” the letter said. “More importantly, patients with cancer, AIDS, chronic pain, seizures and pediatric patients have reduced or replaced pharmaceuticals, including opiates, with medical cannabis. 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 the case they lose access to their medical cannabis.”
“To further reduce the risk of exposure we respectfully request that the state swiftly allow physicians to evaluate patients and write recommendations for both new medical patients and renewing patients using telecommunications,” the letter continued. “This action which is not currently available to us will help flatten the curve by keeping our most vulnerable patients at home.”
The Michigan Cannabis Industry Association said on its website that “initial indications are that our letter is well received and we will continue to update you on our progress.”
The coronavirus pandemic has upended virtually every industry, and cannabis is no exception. The state of Illinois announced this week that, in an effort to curtail the spread of the virus, it would permit curbside medical marijuana sales during the outbreak. Whitmer already gave the go-ahead for curbside sales in Michigan, too, a move that the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association applauded in its letter to the governor on Wednesday.