Home Delivery an Option for Medical Marijuana Patients in MA
Saturday, February 15, 2014
The option for delivery is seldom available for patients among the 20 states that currently regulate medical marijuana. In Rhode Island, the state's Department of Health is currently considering a proposal by Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center of Portsmouth to offer daily deliveries.
At a conference earlier this week, Massachusetts' medical marijuana program director, Karen van Unen, said dispensaries had been encouraged to offer the home service as a matter of choice for patients.
Important option for patients
"Home delivery is an important aspect of the program because not all communities will host dispensaries, and extensive travel can be prohibitive for patients undergoing rigorous chemotherapy treatments, living with disabilities such as paralysis, or suffering with conditions such as ALS or MS,” responded Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance Executive Director Matthew J. Allen.
Van Unen said this week that all applicants granted provisional licenses had expressed an intent to offer home delivery.
The state announced preliminary approval of 20 dispensaries on Jan. 31. A second round of provisional licenses is expected to be awarded in early June. Eight unsuccessful applicants were invited to update their proposals for one of four counties (Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Berkshire and Franklin) still without plans for a dispensary.
In Central Massachusetts, medical marijuana patients will have at least two options: Good Chemistry of Massachusetts in Worcester, set to operate out of a former dance studio on Harrison Street, and Bay State Relief in Milford.
In a statement after the provisional licenses were announced, Bay State Relief's Armand Riendeau said the state Department of Public Health had done an “exceptional job of crafting a comprehensive, patient-focused medical marijuana program.”
He continued on to say the focus would be on individualized care and attention to qualified patients.
Speaking earlier this month to GoLocal, JoAnne Leppanen, the executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, said many of the early medical marijuana patients in her state were disabled.
In its proposal to offer home delivery, Greenleaf attests to many of its patients being homebound or otherwise having difficulties traveling. The company is asking for approval to deliver within Newport and Bristol counties daily, and Kent, Providence, and Washington counties twice a week, with local trips free and longer trips incurring a delivery charge.
Delivery is a reality in some other states, including California, where the state's Supreme Court ruled last year that towns, cities, and counties are allowed to restrict dispensaries from operating, resulting in many being shuttered. In Massachusetts, the medical marijuana law requires each county to have at least one dispensary. But there's a maximum of five per county and 35 across the state.
The state's regulations are also prescriptive when it comes to home deliveries, which dictate that vehicles can't make any stops and must keep detailed logs.
“Regulations require dispensaries transporting medical marijuana to do so in an unmarked car with randomized routes, monitored GPS system, locked compartment, and at least two dispensary agents, one who must remain in the vehicle at all times,” according to the patient alliance's Allen. “Most dispensaries will include additional security measures beyond those required by regulations."
Final dispensary locations not certain
Public health officials made dispensary hopefuls submit sworn statements this week that their applications were accurate after a number of criticisms of some of the provisional license awardees. Good Chemistry was among those receiving complaints after its successful application for a Boston dispensary made claims of local support that weren't there. The company's contact person on its application, Jaime Lewis, told the Boston Globe that she inadvertently placed references to Worcester-area state legislators and city councilors in the company's Boston application.
Meanwhile, others have raised potential conflicts of interest between a firm led by former U.S. Rep. William Delahunt and the state's public health commissioner. Delahunt's Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts received licenses for dispensaries in Mashpee, Taunton, and Plymouth.
All announced licenses are still provisional and subject to final approval by the health department over the coming months. The first dispensaries could open late summer toward the end of the year.
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