Cannabis Control Commission Votes to Extend Several COVID-19 Orders
Orders may be subject to regulatory review this year
WORCESTER—The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) on Thursday voted unanimously to extend its COVID-19 orders that allow telehealth consultations for first-time medical patients, curbside pickup operations for Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MTCs), and virtual community outreach meetings until December 31, 2023—or until such time that the agency further modifies the orders.
First enacted in the early days of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Commission has extended these actions several times to ensure the health and safety of patients, MTC agents, licensees, and the general public throughout the pandemic. Most recently, during a special public meeting held on December 28, Commissioners voted to temporarily extend the orders until the February 9 public meeting in order to have a more robust discussion about their ongoing utility and value. More information about the iteration of each order is available by visiting the agency’s “Enforcement Announcements” web page at MassCannabisControl.com.
On Thursday, Commission Executive Director Shawn Collins reported that since March 2020, an average of 80% of all initial Certifying Healthcare Provider visits with first-time patients of the Medical Use of Marijuana Program were conducted via telehealth. In December 2022 specifically, 87% of all initial provider visits were conducted via telehealth appointment.
Additionally, 13 of 100 operating MTCs continue to offer curbside services to patients.
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“By extending these orders on Thursday, Commissioners sent a clear message to Certifying Healthcare Providers, patients, licensees and applicants, and the public that we take their safety seriously,” Executive Director Shawn Collins said. “Staff will continue to monitor the effectiveness of these policies and prioritize protections of all constituents while COVID-19 continues to threaten public health in our state.”
The orders relating to telehealth and virtual community meetings were made possible through a waiver of the current regulations requiring both to be conducted in person. However, the curbside pickup order was done through an interpretation of the current regulations that allows the curb to be viewed as an extension of the store. As such, Commissioners discussed that the telehealth and virtual community meetings orders are extended pending regulatory review that may occur in the coming months, while curbside pickup can be terminated at any point through their vote.
This move is timely as the Commission is beginning a regulatory review process that may result in reforming and updating existing policies and procedures regulating the adult- and medical-use cannabis industries in Massachusetts. If written into the Commission’s regulations, telehealth consultations for first-time medical patients, curbside pickup operations for MTCs, and virtual community outreach meetings could all become permanent policies.
Additional information is available by visiting MassCannabisControl.com, by contacting the Commission by phone (774-415-0200) or email (Commission@CCCMass.Com), or following the agency on Facebook and Twitter.
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