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An executive order allowing telemedicine for medical marijuana and payments to online pharmacies ends today, June 11, according to announcements from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Marijuana Enforcement Division.
Both business practices are prohibited under state law, but were approved for over a year by Governor Jared Polis in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Telemedicine is allowed for a variety of doctor consultations in Colorado, but visits to medical marijuana are prohibited. Pre-ordering marijuana products that are later paid for at the pharmacy is already legal in Colorado, but online payment for recreational orders with credit, debit, or prepaid cards is prohibited under applicable law. (However, medical patients are allowed to pay for their orders online.)
In May, a Colorado House committee killed a bill that would have legalized both practices after Polis’ executive order ended, citing concerns about increasing access to marijuana for teenagers. Although no research has explored a link between teenage medical marijuana patients and illicit use by young people, about 4,000 patients in Colorado are between 18 and 20 years old, and another 150 patients are between 11 and 17 years old, according to CDPHE. These numbers, plus months of lobbying for a potency cap for commercial cannabis products, were enough to put an end to legislative efforts.
Medical marijuana telemedicine was supposed to help those at risk during the pandemic, but it also benefited families with child patients, according to several mothers of autistic children who advocated strengthening MMJ telehealth.
“In Colorado, medical marijuana can only be recommended by health care providers for pain, HIV, cancer, seizures, glaucoma, nausea, muscle spasms, autism, or PTSD. Neither condition requires visual cues,” argues medical marijuana doctor Peter Pryor, of his patients now looks at the car to avoid contact.
However, not every change brought about by the implementing regulation will go away. Other business practices enacted during the pandemic to promote social distancing, such as takeaway marijuana sales and drive-thru and walk-up windows, have been adopted and persisted by the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division without legal permission The Polis Implementing Ordinance expires.
Update: This article was updated on June 14th to correct a bug that said the sale of marijuana to the curb will continue after the executive order expires.
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Thomas Mitchell has been a cannabis-related writer for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news for publications like the Arizona Republic, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.