Today, NORML and its national network of advocacy chapters released a memo to state lawmakers, regulators, prosecutors, and other interested parties providing guidance for how they can take emergency actions to better promote the health and welfare of cannabis consumers and the general public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In this era of tremendous uncertainty, it is crucial that policymakers use every tool in their toolkit to promote public health and safety. The enactment of various marijuana policy reforms can assist in these goals by reprioritizing law enforcement resources, mitigating interpersonal contact in our communities, and by ensuring that the elderly and more vulnerable patients continue to have uninterrupted access to state-regulated cannabis products via home delivery or curbside pick-up,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal.
In states where cannabis possession and use is criminalized, NORML recommends the following actions:
- – An immediate deprioritization of marijuana criminal and civil penalty enforcement;
- – An immediate withdrawal of all charges for those currently facing prosecution for a nonviolent marijuana-related offense;
- – The immediate review and release of currently incarcerated individuals who are either in jail or in prison solely for the commission of a nonviolent marijuana-related offense;
- – The immediate review and waiving of all pending probation requirements for individuals who have solely been convicted of a nonviolent marijuana-related crime.
“As individuals and families struggle to cope with the day-to-day challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic, it is inappropriate and irresponsible for state and local governments to continue utilizing precious resources and capacity to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate Americans for marijuana violations,” said NORML’s Strekal.
In states where cannabis possession and use is regulated, NORML recommends the following actions:
- – The designation of dispensaries and their suppliers as ‘essential services’;
- – Allowing for the home delivery and curbside pickup of cannabis products;
- – Expanding the ability for physicians to advise medical cannabis patients via telemedicine;
- – Taking aggressive enforcement actions against fraudulent claims of cannabis/CBD “cure-all” scams from predatory marketers.
“In those majority of states that regulate aspects of the cannabis market, it is crucial that patients, consumers, and employees are able to continue to engage in this marketplace in a manner that comports with current health and safety recommendations, such as physical distancing. By implementing these common-sense reforms, we can ensure a safer environment for those who work in this essential industry and those who they provide for,” said NORML’s Strekal.
NORML also issued the following recommendations for federal lawmakers:
- – Make state-licensed businesses eligible for Small Business Administration crisis relief funding and loans;
- – Allow the medical and adult-use cannabis industry expanded access to the banking sector to allow the use of debit and credit cards, thus reducing the potential transmission of COVID-19 between consumers and employees.
“The federal government is taking unprecedented steps to protect public health and private sector employment, but it should not leave the hundreds of thousands of employees who work in the state-licensed cannabis industry behind. Implementing these simple and minor changes at the federal level could reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission amongst cannabis patients, consumers, and industry employees, as well as provide necessary benefits and economic safeguards to this emerging industry,” said NORML’s Strekal.
You can read and download the memo to share with your local policymakers here.