Medical marijuana telemedicine company NuggMD is bringing their remote consultation services to Pennsylvania, said PR Newswire. Patients can access the NuggMD platform for $139. The main goal of this service is to provide an avenue for current and future medical marijuana patients to renew and apply for a card.
NuggMD CMO and co-founder Alex Milligan said that “P.ennsylvania’s population of MMJ patients continues to grow at a rapid pace.” He added, “We look forward to serving the community with accessible medical marijuana recommendations for years to come.”
Pennsylvanians come as a welcome addition to the millions of patients that NuggMD has connected to licensed medical cannabis professionals. Aside from PA, the telemedicine platform is available in California, Nevada, New York, Missouri, Ohio and Oklahoma.
Telemedicine and the Pandemic
With the current public health risk caused by the virus pandemic, a good portion of medical cannabis patients in PA are restricted from going out as they are at-risk of COVID-19. Cannabis services are considered essential in the state during the pandemic, which means that dispensaries will continue to operate, albeit at a limited capacity.
It is important to note that in Pennsylvania, 62% of cardholders are aged 45 to 75 years, which makes them vulnerable to the virus. With NuggMD, PA patients can obtain their MMJ cards without leaving their homes and risking exposure.
The telemedicine platform came at a good time as the Pennsylvania Department of Health implemented a less strict application process in March. Instead of having a five-person limit per caregiver and conducting background checks, evaluators can now issue certifications via online channels.
According to Milligan, “Considering a majority of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana patients are those most at risk of contracting COVID-19, we could not be more pleased to announce the expansion of our telemedicine services to the state during a time when virtual access to medical marijuana card evaluations is more important than ever.”
MMJ Access in Pennsylvania
Back in April 2016, PA Governor Tom Wolf made medical marijuana legal, leading t the opening of the state’s very first dispensaries two years later. The state’s program started with an initial list of 17 qualifying conditions until it added 6 more in July 2019. The number of patients grew and in May 2020, there are around 300,000 cardholders. This shows an extremely significant increase from January 2020 figure. In fact, within that span, the number by a whopping 94%.
NuggMD’s platform is just one option for Pennsylvanians who want to access medical cannabis. The service has licensed doctors who can assist current and future MMJ cardholders every day.
Aside from telemedicine, patients who need to avail cannabis products can also minimize the risks of exposure through various means. Here are some of the safe access protocols in the state:
Pickup by Caregivers
In some states, weed delivery is allowed to make sure that patients can have their supply of products without leaving their homes. However, this is not the case in Pennsylvania. What Pennsylvanians can do to get their supply is to have their caregivers pick up products from licensed dispensaries.
Caregivers who have more than one patients can pick up products for unlimited patients. However, this is only a temporary measure for the pandemic and this practice may not be allowed to continue after the pandemic.
Those who have private vehicles can simply call ahead of time and place their orders, then simply drive down to the store and pick up their packages from dispensary staff who would be meeting you on the curbside. This is a great way to minimize exposure, while also having the flexibility of getting your own supply.
Because cannabis is considered essential during the pandemic, the state government has allowed patients to keep a larger stash which can last up to 90 days. This further reduces the need to replenish supplies.
Should you find yourself having to go to the physical store to buy your supply, you can do so given that your preferred dispensary is operating. However, there are health and safety protocols you need to observe.
One of the most important measures is wearing masks. Some establishments prohibit entry into their space unless customers wear masks. Because of this, you should always make it a point to wear one. In fact, be sure to wear one when you are expecting to interact with other people to curb exposure.
Another measure you should observe is social distancing. You want to make sure that there is ample space between you and another person when you are in the dispensary. The store may also prohibit some actions including sniffing products. Staff may come and clean the space from time to time. Again, all these rules are meant to minimize risks so make sure to observe them.
The Future of Marijuana in PA
As of writing, only medical marijuana is legal in the state. However, there has been a big push toward fully legalizing the plant, especially with effort from Governor Wolf. Wolf has been advocating for adult-use recreational legalization since September, along with Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.
The full legalization of the plant is seen as a great way to raise revenues for the state, which will go toward COVID-19 recovery. In an article by Billy Penn, Fetterman was quoted saying, “It’s a simple policy decision. We need the revenue desperately now due to the pandemic. We desperately need new jobs.” The cannabis industry is known to generate revenues and jobs in states where it became legal.
In light of the talks about legalization, some advocates are pushing for reparations for individuals and communities negatively affected by the enforcement of prohibition. Advocates say that this should be a top priority, especially as marijuana convictions have prevented entire communities from achieving upward socioeconomic mobility.
The Bottom Line
The entry of NuggMD’s telemedicine in Pennsylvania is a great addition to available services for MMJ patients. This, combined with existing safety protocols for cannabis access, can help protect patients, while also giving them easier access to the marijuana services they need.