The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on retail businesses throughout the county, including medical and adult-use cannabis businesses. To address the health and safety concerns of customers, employees, and businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, Michigan and Illinois announced temporary rules for their marijuana businesses.
In Michigan, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) is modifying its rules and procedures until further notice to limit person-to-person contact at retail locations. First, provisioning centers and retailers are allowed to deliver products to customers curb-side. This means that a customer may purchase and obtain products without ever leaving their vehicles by either completing their order online or with a facility employee in the parking lot of the facility. Employees must still observe tracking and verification requirements by recording all necessary sales information in METRC and validating the customer’s identification (and registration if applicable).
Second, MRA is encouraging retailers and provisioning centers to use home delivery as much as possible. Home delivery is allowed under MMFLA Rule 82 and MRTMA Rule 57, subject to MRA approval. For provisioning centers and retailers that have not yet received MRA approval, MRA is expediting review of home delivery plans with the goal of completing the review process in 24 to 48 hours.
Prequalification Extension, License Issuance Process, and Guidance Regarding METRC Issues
MRA announced that, beginning on March 16, 2020, marijuana licenses will become effective, and licensees may begin operation, upon payment of the regulatory assessment or licensure fee. Copies of licenses are not available for in-person pick-up. Instead, MRA will print and mail licenses on Tuesday and Friday of each week.
Recognizing that construction delays are likely during the pandemic, effective March 18, 2020, MRA is also extending the prequalification expiration date by 90 days for certain applicants. Specifically, applicants currently in prequalification status, currently in an approved extension of prequalification status, or who receive prequalification status in the next 90 days will have approximately three months of additional time to finish construction of their facilities and apply for their facility licenses.
Finally, although not tied to the current COVID-19 health emergency, MRA also provided guidance (here and here) for marijuana businesses that experience issues with METRC. Businesses that are unable to connect to METRC and have received notification of METRC issues from MRA are allowed to track sales, record product transfers, and verify patient information in their point-of-sale software. All information recorded in point-of-sale software while METRC is unavailable must be uploaded to METRC within 24 hours of METRC being restored. If any sales occurred while METRC was unavailable that exceeded the daily allowable amount, the business must report the sale information to MRA within 72 hours.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is also taking steps to limit direct contact between people at its marijuana dispensaries. Between March 16, 2020 and March 30, 2020, IDFPR is allowing marijuana dispensaries to dispense medical cannabis product outside their limited access areas (this temporary rule does not apply to adult-use sales). In doing so, dispensaries must follow specific guidelines. First, money and product must be exchanged on dispensary property or on the walkway or street adjacent to the dispensary. Second, the dispensary must scan the patient’s or caregiver’s card prior to purchase and the purchase must be tracked in the state system. Third, cash must be taken immediately into the dispensary after each transaction. And fourth, security must be present for all outdoor exchanges. The dispensary may take protective measures during these transaction by not requiring the physical exchange of patient/caregiver cards, requiring employees to wear gloves, and giving employees frequent breaks to wash their hands.
IDFPR is also directing dispensaries to follow proper sanitization procedures, such as ensuring that customers who come inside a dispensary stay at least six feet from one another, requiring employees to frequently wash their hands, and disinfecting surfaces that patients are required to touch at least every 30 minutes.
As the coronavirus situation evolves, stay tuned to Dykema’s Cannabis Blog for further information on how it is affecting the cannabis industry. For more generalized information, visit Dykema’s COVID-19 Resource Center.