Illinois will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to conduct curbside sales to patients in an effort to protect them from the spread of COVID-19.

The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced relaxed guidelines for dispensaries as the novel coronavirus swept through America. These new regulations permit dispensary staff to sell marijuana to patients at the side of the road or in the parking lot.

This is a temporary concession that applies until March 30. It does not apply to adult-use cannabis consumers.

The guidelines instruct dispensaries to enforce social distancing measures in store, keeping people six feet away from one another at all times. That means patients cannot queue in traditionally compact lines, and dispensaries were encouraged to move lines outside the stores.

If patients, caregivers, or purchasers are bunching up, the dispensary must intervene and order them to space out. They could also be forced to close down some point-of-sale systems and minimize the time a patient or caregiver stands near staff members.

Stores are now starting to roll out online ordering for adult-use cannabis customers to ensure they do not spend so long in close contact with others. Cresco Labs switched to mandatory online ordering in its Illinois stores over the weekend as the threat posed by the coronavirus ramped up.

MOCA Modern Cannabis in the Logan Square neighbourhood became the first Chicago store to halt recreational cannabis sales last week. Today, Dispensary 33 in the Uptown neighbourhood also stopped recreational sales until further notice.

Marketing director Abigail Watkins said it was impossible to keep everyone a safe distance apart in the store.

Last week, a recreational cannabis store in Michigan called off its grand opening in response to the outbreak. The busiest cannabis store in Boston has also halted sales to the general public in response to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s new restrictions on public gatherings.

However, some cannabis stores have enjoyed a roaring trade as Americans stock up on enough supply to see them through a potentially lengthy period of isolation. The LA Times reported that marijuana, liquor, and guns were popular among coronavirus hoarders in California over the weekend, along with hand sanitizers.

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