Out-of-State Patients Sheltering in Place, Finding Little Help

Andy Seeger

With much of the United States, and the world, hunkering down, we have seen a spike in cannabis sales as consumers in legal markets stock up for some downtime. Given recent challenges of public commerce, some states, such as the nascent Michigan market, have implemented or expanded delivery or have allowed curb-side sales to limit consumer’s and worker’s exposure.

However, medical cannabis patients still face hurdles despite efforts to protect them and their access, and current circumstances highlight the need for change. Many medical-only states do not allow out-of-state medical card holders to purchase medical cannabis within their jurisdictions, a potential reciprocity that is complicated by differences in programs, authorizations, and condition lists.

Minnesota, for example, with its’ highly restrictive medical market and only a few dispensaries state-wide for patients, does not allow medical patient reciprocity. With so much travel and general disruption having occurred so quickly, many are left scrambling to secure access to their medicinal products as they may be caught outside of their home state. The Minnesota Department of Health is left impotent to make any changes to the program until any legislative action that would expand the program, either temporarily or permanently codified. According to the office, it current has no plans to push for any waiver on restrictions at this current time.


Structural Change for Medical Patients

While many governments are strained by the requirements of this outbreak, patient rights and access deserves some small amount of attention and concern. Medical patients may be reclaiming the baton from corporate interests in pushing the industry forward during these trying times.

This is an opportunity for the industry to set right a whole host of market flaws and inefficiencies, creating new systems and route-to-market options in markets that will enhance access, streamline consumer experiences, reduce frictions and inefficiencies while setting firms and consumers up for long-term health and enjoyment. While we watch the world change at a dizzying pace, now is the time to make structural shifts that place the consumer and the patient at the forefront.