Across the United States, states, counties and even cities are issuing shelter-in-place orders in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Even during a pandemic, people need access to essential services like groceries, fuel for their car, prescription medication and according to some states, even cannabis.

As of Thursday, 21 states had issued statewide “stay at home” orders and more than a dozen other states have orders in parts of the state in effect.

A man in face mask coming out of a pharmacy shop

Milan, Italy – February 26, 2020: A man in face mask leaving a pharmacy shop. Some people in Italy began wearing face masks after Italian authorities have announced coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Governors and public health officials in several states have declared medical cannabis businesses as essential; though advocacy groups were quick to make the point that many individuals using cannabis for therapeutic purposes do not go through the process of becoming a certified patient. In some places, adult-use storefronts are also seen as crucial. Michigan provisioning centers are authorized to conduct curbside sales and home delivery.

Since the Coronavirus Michigan situation currently holds the fifth highest confirmed cases in the United States, an advisory bulletin issued by the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) on Mar. 16th authorized the curbside pickup on a temporary basis until terminated in another bulletin. Home delivery plans must be approved by the agency.

Let’s see how other states compare:


Cannabis retail facilities are considered essential businesses that may remain open. Some cities and counties have also specifically addressed this.

Screenshot of San Francisco Tweet



Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order authorizing cannabis businesses to provide curbside pickup and allowing physicians issued recommendations for medical cannabis via telemedicine.


Dispensaries and producers are considered to be part of the state’s healthcare sector and are not required to close.


Medical marijuana dispensaries are exempt from closure.


Gov. David Inge’s stay-at-home order specifically addresses cannabis businesses. Per the order licensed cannabis dispensaries, cannabis processors and cultivators are essential businesses that may operate.

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Marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers facilities were declared essential in the governor’s stay-at-home order. Medical dispensaries may also conduct curbside sales.


The medical cannabis supply chain is exempt from the stay-at-home order.


Medical growers, processors and dispensaries are listed among the healthcare and public health sectors in Gov. Larry Hogan’s order. The Maryland Medical Commission issued a bulletin on Mar. 16 allowing qualified patients and caregivers to take delivery in a parked car in the dispenary’s parking lot.


The stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Charlie Baker deemed medical cannabis to be essential. Medical dispensaries were encouraged to deliver cannabis.

Recreational facilities were not exempt from closure.


The state’s two medical marijuana companies are exempt from the stay-at-home order.

New Hampshire

Medical cannabis patients may obtain cannabis via curbside pick-up.

New Jersey

The governor exempted medical cannabis dispensaries. Regulators issued waivers to allow Alternative Treatment Centers to serve patients curbside in their vehicles and reduce caregiver registration fees.

New Mexico 

Medical cannabis businesses are considered essential and authorized to allow curbside pickup. Patient and caregiver cards that are set to expire are extended for 90 days.

Background checks for new industry employees have also been suspended for 90 days.

New York

The State Department of Health classified all licensed medical marijuana to be essential in a clarification issued after the governor’s stay-at-home order.

Dispensaries approved for home delivery are temporarily allowed to expand those services without written approval.

Glass jar full of Cannabis Sativa for sale at a market stall.


Medical cannabis businesses are exempt from shutdown. The State Medical Board moved to allow medical cannabis recommendations via telemedicine.

Phone orders to medical dispensaries are also allowed in an effort to reduce time spent in the storefront.


The statewide safety-at-home order allows medical marijuana businesses to remain open. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority took to Twitter to clarify.

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Screenshot of Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority tweet


The Liquor Control Commission oversees the cannabis industry in Oregon. They issued a temporary ruling that allowed licensed retailers to conduct limited sales outside their premises.

It permits products to be delivered to someone outside of the store within 150 feet. The state however has not classified cannabis businesses as essential.


Medical cannabis providers fall into the category of life-sustaining operations and so are exempt from the order to close businesses in general.

Patients pay also have cannabis brought to their cars outside of the dispensary and caregivers may make deliveries to an unlimited number of patients.


The medical marijuana industry is considered essential by lawmakers and will remain open.

Washington State

The stay-at-home order includes an appendix that lists cannabis retailers and workers supporting the supply chain as essential. The State Liquor and Cannabis Board also issued an order allowing retailers to conduct curbside pickups.

They also clarified in a news release that all licensed cannabis businesses can continue to operate and that retailers can sell to both medical patients and recreational customers.

It wasn’t long ago that growing, processing and selling cannabis was illegal with severe criminal penalties in every state. Essential business classification is an exciting step toward medical and adult-use cannabis becoming more mainstream.

Contact a Cannabis Attorney

If you have questions about the operations of your cannabis facility during a time of crisis or otherwise, it is imperative to seek the advice of a licensed cannabis attorney.

Contact us online today or by phone at (248) 541-2600.

Kali Rose (18 Posts)

Kali is one of Cannabis Legal Group’s Paralegals. She began legal career at the Law Offices of Barton Morris and Cannabis Legal Group in 2017 as an Administrative Assistant. In July 2018, she was promoted to Paralegal at Cannabis Legal Group. She earned an Associate of Applied Science from Terra State Community College in Fremont, OH and holds background in communications and marketing. Kali is responsible for client relations, managing attorney calendars, and works to ensure research and document support are carried out effectively and efficiently for our cannabis clients.

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