Coronavirus

Colorado Extends Executive Orders for Marijuana Telemedicine, Payment Options

The executive orders were designed to create more social distancing for retail marijuana shoppers and medical patients.
Jacqueline Collins
The executive orders were designed to create more social distancing for retail marijuana shoppers and medical patients.
Just days after announcing that executive orders allowed medical marijuana telemedicine and online dispensary payments during the pandemic had expired, state officials have backtracked.

First issued over a year ago by Governor Jared Polis in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most recent extension of the executive orders had expired for good on June 11— or so we thought. On June 15, both the state Marijuana Enforcement Division and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released announcements stating the executive orders had actually been extended once more, and will now run through July 10.

"We apologize for any confusion. We will continue to share more information from the Governor’s Office about this executive order as we are notified of updates," reads a joint statement from the MED and CDPHE.

Although telemedicine is allowed for doctor consultations in Colorado, medical marijuana telemedicine visits are banned under state law. Pre-ordering marijuana products and physically paying for them at the dispensary is already legal in Colorado, but paying for recreational orders online with credit, debit or pre-paid cards is prohibited.

Other business practices enacted during the pandemic to encourage social distancing, such as takeout marijuana sales through drive-thru and walk-up windows, were adopted by the MED without legislative approval, and will remain after Polis's executive order expires. However, medical marijuana telemedicine and online ordering require statutory changes in order to become permanent after the executive orders expire. A bill that would have made the practices legal was killed by a House committee in May, with committee members citing concerns over increasing marijuana access to teenagers.

Medical marijuana doctors and patients testified in support of keeping the option, but Colorado's medical marijuana program has been under the microscope as lawmakers passed a controversial bill, HB 1317, that will add several new layers of restrictions to medical marijuana recommendations if Polis signs it into law.