Vermont’s Marijuana Registry is following in the footsteps of pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS by adding delivery.
Rules and regulations regarding delivery have yet to be made final, but patients could see delivery as an option to receive marijuana products thanks to a state statute passed in 2014, said Lindsey Wells, program administrator for the Marijuana Registry.
V.S.A. 4474 d (f) states the department “shall adopt rules establishing protocols for safe delivery of marijuana to patients and caregivers.”
Wells said she plans to submit a draft of those rules and regulations, including security precautions, operating hours and insignia on delivery vehicles to the Legislative Committee on Administrative Roles within the next two weeks.
Approval from the committee is needed to move forward with delivery, she said.
Delivery will help patients get timely access to a high quality medicine, said Alex Ford, executive director of the Brandon-based dispensary, Rutland County Organics.
“This is a great way to offer new or different strains to patients who may need or want something other than what their ‘geographically located’ dispensary may offer,” she said.
Ford pointed to the dispensary’s new CO2 oils in combination with a disposable cartridge and vaporizer pen that is expected to be released next week. The products can make medication more effective than some other extracts, Ford said.
“With delivery, any patient in the state can have access to this system,” she said. “The focus is really on the patients.”
Ford said many of her patients have been vocal about delivery in rural communities such as in Rutland, Bennington and Windsor counties.
She submitted an application to Williston town officials to move to an existing, 3,200-square-foot building close to the South Burlington city line. While new location the would give patients in Chittenden County another dispensary option, delivery will allow her to continue to serve patients in the southern portion of the state, Ford said.
“I suspect a large part of our business will become delivery, especially given our very rural location,” she said.
Wells, of the Marijuana Registry, echoed Ford’s thoughts.
“Some people just sitting a vehicle for a long time, if they have a bad back or whatever the condition may be — that can be draining,” Wells said. “Delivery could be a better avenue for them to obtain marijuana than having to get into a car for over an hour one way.”
Often patients are too sick to travel or must rely on a caregiver to drive to a dispensary, said Shayne Lynn, executive director of Champlain Valley Dispensary and Southern Vermont Wellness. Lynn runs both the Burlington dispensary and the Brattleboro facility which serve about 800 patients, he said.
“It really is about the patients,” he said. “We see delivery as an opportunity to help people on that front.”
But it’s not like pizza delivery, Lynn said. There are security concerns and issues of being able to provide the right information to patients.
When patients go to a facility to purchase products, staff sits down with the patient to explain the medicine, how it works, dosages and the different products offered at the site, Lynn said. He envisions a combined effort. If a patient decides to have products delivered, the dispensary would offer a phone service where patients can speak to a sales associate who can guide them through the process, he said.
“Going to someone’s house and entering a home, that is a concern on our part,” Lynn said. “That transfer of information has to happen somewhere.”
Marlboro resident Robert Merriam said he agrees with Lynn.
Merriam is a patient at the Brattleboro dispensary and serves as a patient representative on the Marijuana for Symptom Relief Oversight Committee.
“I think delivery is good for patients,” he said. “But having a counter or a place at the dispensary that the patient can go visit is vital.”
Many of the same rules and regulations that dispensaries currently have to follow will continue with delivery, Wells said.
A draft copy has been made available on the registry website.
Cannabis and cannabis-infused products will have to be transported in a secure locked container, only permit cardholders can be in the vehicle and products can be delivered only to the registered patient’s or caregiver’s physical address, according to a copy of the proposed rules and regulations.
Delivery vehicles will be prohibited from displaying advertising or cannabis related insignia, Wells said. Drivers will be required to have a communication device for emergency circumstances, she said, whether it be a cellphone or a two-way radio for parts of the state with limited cellphone reception.
Staff at the dispensary will be aware of the delivery schedule, the route drivers will take and there will be a check-in process from th
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