Guidance released for cannabis dispensaries to continue operations


FILE – In this Oct. 26, 2018, file photo, Diana Calvert, River City Retail Marijuana Dispensary manager stocks the shelves with product in Merlin, Ore. Marijuana sales in Oregon along the Idaho state line are 420% the statewide average, according to a state report. Idaho residents are purchasing recreational marijuana in Oregon because it is illegal in Idaho, the report released Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis said. (Timothy Bullard/The Daily Courier via AP)

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced this week guidance for cannabis dispensaries to continue business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help reduce contact between individuals, dispensaries will be allowed to sell medical cannabis to medical cannabis patients and OAPP participants outside a limited access area until March 30, provided dispensaries follow certain guidelines, which may be found here. The guidelines will permit the dispensary to sell medical cannabis on the dispensary’s property or on a public walkway or curb adjacent to the dispensary.

Medical cannabis patients will be able to continue to utilize their designated caregiver to purchase medicine for them. However, dispensaries may not deliver medical cannabis to a patient or caregiver’s home.

These rules do not apply to adult use cannabis sales; those must still take place inside the limited access area. IDFPR is aware of at least eight dispensaries that have voluntarily suspended adult use cannabis sales, while others are implementing patient-only hours.

“Our top priority is to minimize the risk of and protect as many people from exposure to COVID-19,” Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control said. “These steps prioritize that critical objective, while also ensuring medical patients have access to the medicine they need.”

Dispensaries must also take steps to ensure consumers who come inside do not come within six feet of one another. Such efforts include moving lines outside the dispensary, closing down some point-of-sale systems, distancing patient/caregiver lines within larger dispensaries, and minimizing the time a patient/caregiver stands near agents.

Additional steps to ensure dispensaries are appropriately sanitized must also be followed. Dispensaries must allow dispensary agents to wash their hand frequently throughout the day and provide an ample supply of disinfectant hand soap. Any surfaces patients are required to touch, such as ordering tablets or door handles must be disinfected at least every 30 minutes. All other surfaces should be washed throughout the day, including disinfecting at least once per day all countertops, computer screens/keyboards, door handles, railings, and bathrooms.

Inspectors will continue to monitor cameras inside dispensaries daily to ensure continued compliance with the Department’s laws, rules, and guidance. IDFPR expects dispensaries to answer inspectors’ calls or call them back promptly, if necessary. Badging of new agents will continue as usual.

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