This week, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced 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 Opioid Alternative Pilot Program (OAPP) participants outside a limited access area until March 30, 2020, provided dispensaries follow certain guidelines.
These 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.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation 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,” said Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control to Governor Pritzker. “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 hands 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. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation expects dispensaries to answer inspectors’ calls or call them back promptly, if necessary. Badging of new agents will continue as usual.