Editor’s note: After this article was first published, the IDFPR issued on Jan. 3 an updated variant extending the state’s curbside pickup option for medical cannabis dispensaries through Jan. 31, 2023.
Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other debilitating conditions that affect one’s balance and motor skills are among the qualifiers to participate in Illinois’ medical cannabis program.
But the state’s registered patients will now—as of Jan. 1, 2023—have to get out of their cars and physically enter a licensed dispensary to receive the medication they’ve been able to access via curbside pickup for the past three years.
In a Dec. 29 update from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR)—the authoritative arm of the state’s cannabis program—regulators informed licensed operators that the variance permitting curbside pickup at medical cannabis dispensaries was set to expire at the end of 2022 and would not be extended into the new year.
“This means that as of Jan. 1, 2023, all patients and caregivers will be required to pick up and purchase all cannabis products inside the dispensary,” according to the update. “There will be no further extensions of this variance [allowing curbside pickup].”
Illinois is one of many states that implemented a curbside pickup option for medical cannabis patients during March 2020, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, when cannabis businesses were declared “essential.”
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IDFPR officials extended the state’s curbside pickup variance multiple times since it was first implemented, but they now plan to put that practice to halt for good. But that decision does not sit well with at least one multistate operator.
“Since 2020, sick patients [with] trouble walking have been able to get their medicine without leaving their car,” Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries CEO Ben Kovler said on social media. “On 12/29, we got this letter. No explanation. Just anti-patient. Anti-compassion.”
In a follow-up tweet, Kovler said GTI was committed to “fighting this action” by asking IDFPR to reverse the decision, pointing out that it can get cold and icy in January in Illinois.