Employees in the infirmary have also been registered as caregivers and have the right to deliver products directly to their patients in accordance with the state ’s emergency rules.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced some temporary changes to the state ’s medical cannabis plan to make patients access to medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic despite the fact that pharmacies are not allowed to provide products to patients in emergency situations. Caregivers in the state have increased, and the plan has enabled Ethos Cannabis to be delivered to certain patients.
Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis law always allows patients to establish contact with caregivers. They can be your family members or friends, and they can purchase cannabis on behalf of patients after registering with the state. Caregivers must undergo a background check, participate in a medical cannabis program, and obtain an ID. In the past, patients could have up to five caregivers.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Ministry of Health expanded the caregiver program to allow each patient to have an unlimited number of caregivers, and each caregiver can care for an unlimited number of patients.
This change provides Ethos Cannabis with a rare opportunity, and the company has registered caregivers for its employees.
The pharmacy encourages patients to contact one of the company’s three employee caregivers so that the caregivers can purchase products for the patient and give them to their home.
David Clapper, president of Ethos Cannabis, told Cannabis Dispensary, “For many patients, this approach works well … for whatever reason, they do not want to leave home during this time, which is completely understandable. “
The pharmacy provides this service for free and has implemented software to optimize delivery routes and notify patients when they place an order. Clapper said that so far, the service had been welcomed by patients, and their orders were larger than normal.
Ethos Cannabis is a multi-state cannabis operator with six general pharmacy licenses and a grower/processor license in Pennsylvania, which will be put into operation by the end of this month, allowing the company to integrate vertically in the state.
Clapper said that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program is conservative compared to other states, but it has been largely accepted by patients and doctors, and it is generally welcoming businesses.
He said: “I am very pleased to see the Ministry of Health’s response during this period. They are very patient-focused and very interested in helping patients. At the same time, the Ministry of Health has been soliciting public suggestions on how to solve social isolation.”
Because of the involvement in the cannabis industry, the Ministry of Health allows pharmacies located in rural areas to provide roadside shuttle services for their patients. Customers can stay in their own cars, and pharmacy staff can conduct transactions outside the parking lot.
“People in the suburbs respond well to this, but because the Ministry of Health is not willing to trade on public streets, it won’t work in the city where our pharmacy is located,” Clapper said, “For places without a parking lot, [roadside pick-up] is impossible.”
The coronavirus pandemic has allowed Clapper and other members of the Ethos Cannabis to learn some important lessons that will be applied to post-crisis business models.
First, pharmacy staff is learning how to stay in touch with patients and provide them with information in a way to keep a distance. Even after the coronavirus threat, Clapper hopes to continue to do so.
In the process of providing information via email and social media channels and simplifying its online ordering, Ethos Cannabis is exploring ways to maintain a digital connection with patients. Pharmacies also make use of temporary rules that allow pharmacists to conduct patient consultations by phone rather than in person.
Looking ahead, Clapper is considering that the COVID-19 pandemic will not only change the face of Ethos cannabis, but also the entire retail environment.
“Online and digital interactions with our patients are the way forward for the world. If someone wants to enter our pharmacy and talk to us, we are happy to do it as traditional retail, but many young patients are looking for information, and they want to be able to operate according to their own wishes and make transactions quickly and easily. ” Clapper said.
Clapper added that the Pennsylvania Department of Health also needs to consider how the state’s medical cannabis program works, and he hopes that some emergency rules would become permanent regulations to facilitate patient.
He believes that some rules will continue to move forward, which is a seamless and simple method of program operation.