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Delaware Officials Allow Medical Marijuana Delivery Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

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Home delivery of medical marijuana may soon be available to patients in Delaware under an emergency program being rolled out by state regulators. It’s yet another step designed to ensure safe access to medical cannabis products while limiting the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Delivery from one company, Columbia Care, which has locations in Wilmington, Smyrna and Rehoboth Beach, is expected to begin as soon as this week, regulators confirmed to Marijuana Moment on Friday. The program is being allowed under Delaware’s state-of-emergency declaration, although regulators intend to allow deliveries to continue even after the COVID-19 pandemic stabilizes.

“The Office of Medical Marijuana is not establishing this as a convenience option,” Paul Hyland, director of the state Office of Medical Marijuana, said via a spokesperson, “but as a stop-gap system to allow homebound and the most vulnerable patients to obtain products safely.”

Hyland added that there are “a number of steps to be completed” and “no firm date has been set” on when deliveries will begin, “however Columbia Care is looking to launch delivery” this week.

Columbia Care representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but its website says it is “proud to be the first medical marijuana company in Delaware to deliver products to patients and designated caregivers.”

The program could eventually expand to other dispensaries in the state, such as Fresh Delaware and First State Compassion. Those other operators “can participate” in the delivery program, Hyland said, “however at this time, they were not in a position to accommodate delivery in the time necessary to respond to the current situation.” Neither company responded to requests for comment on Friday.

Hyland said patients won’t need to take any additional steps to register for Columbia Care’s delivery service. “It will work the same way as in-store pick-up currently works for Columbia Care,” he said, “through an option on their website.”

In a blog post Friday that broke news of the delivery program, the Delaware chapter of NORML, a leading cannabis advocacy organization, said it was “thrilled” by the development and urged officials to implement the plan quickly.

“Some patients may not drive and many do not have an authorized caregiver,” the group wrote. “Ordering online with pick up options isn’t enough when a vast majority of patients are now homebound with little resources to facilitate those services. By definition, medical patients are the most at risk and we should be doing everything we can to ensure their safety.”

Laura Sharer, the director of Delaware NORML, had urged the state last week to allow delivery options for patients who needed it. She cheered the move in an email to Marijuana Moment on Friday. “This is historic advocacy action,” she wrote. “To have expressed an urgent need an have it quickly met is not something that has happened within (Delaware’s medical marijuana) program before. I truly applaud our state officials for stepping up to meet patients’ needs.”

Sharer said that she understands Columbia Care plans to make delivery available for orders of $50 or more and will charge a $10 delivery fee. Patients will be able to place orders online or by phone. “As of now, there are no other requirements or extra steps for the patients,” Sharer said, although she stressed that delivery “is a new process and I anticipate they may adjust if needed.”

NORML in its blog post asked patients to continue to use existing curbside-pickup options if they’re able, which will minimize demand on delivery drivers and help them service the state’s most vulnerable patients. “Please be mindful that for many patients this will be their *ONLY* option,” the group wrote. “If you can facilitate the online ordering with pick up option safely, please continue to do so and save this service for those who need it most.”

“I would like to convey that this one center will not be able to meet the demands of the 12,000+ current patients” in the state, Sharer said on Friday, adding that she hoped more dispensaries will soon offer delivery. “I would urge patients to only facilitate this service if they must, reminding that some patients are homebound and this would be their only option.”

Delaware NORML also provided Marijuana Moment with recent email correspondence between activists and Delaware regulators, who wrote in the emails that they began working on a delivery plan in late March.

“Last week we started working with Columbia Care to start a delivery service,” Alanna Mozeik, a policy head at the state Department of Health and Social Services, wrote in a message on Wednesday. “Not all of the vendors are on board at this time, but Columbia Care has the digital infrastructure already in place and they are working diligently to develop the other necessary processes and procedures so that this can occur safely.”

As Mozeik explained in an earlier email to NORML, Delaware law doesn’t expressly forbid cannabis delivery. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, however, the state hadn’t put together a formal process to evaluate and approve delivery proposals. “While the governing statute does not prohibit delivery, OMM (the Office of Medical Marijuana) would still require compassion centers to submit a plan for delivery implementation for review,” she wrote on March 26.

In the email to Marijuana Moment on Friday, Hyland, the director of Delaware’s Office of Medical Marijuana (OMM), said that his office plans to “create a more defined delivery program” going forward.

“Once the (state of emergency) is over, the Office of Medical Marijuana will work to create the proper regulatory and operational framework to standardize delivery across the program,” he said. “Prior to the impacts of COVID-19, the Office of Medical Marijuana was already in initial discussions with compassion center vendors on how to operate a delivery service in Delaware. This planning phase is on pause until the pandemic is over, but at that time the OMM will create a more defined delivery program.”

Nearly all U.S. states with legal cannabis programs have deemed retail outlets essential businesses and allowed them to remain open, with one notable exception being Massachusetts, which has shuttered adult-use cannabis businesses and allowed only medical dispensaries to remain open. Many states have also relaxed regulations in order to allow for curbside pickup, designed to improve social distancing, although only a handful of states currently allow delivery.

In Colorado, regulators last month issued that state’s first delivery license to The Dandelion, a Boulder dispensary operated by the company Native Roots. The store began medical marijuana deliveries last week but for now can deliver only to Boulder and the nearby town of Superior.

Congresswoman Wants Ban On DC Marijuana Sales Lifted Through Coronavirus Legislation

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor. He has covered cannabis as a journalist since 2011, most recently as a senior news editor for Leafly.

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Nevada Sold More Than $1 Billion In Marijuana In One Year, Officials Report

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Nevada retailers sold more than $1 billion in medical and recreational marijuana over a one-year period, state officials announced on Wednesday.

The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) and the Nevada Department of Taxation released the data, which shows $1,003,467,655 in taxable cannabis purchases in Fiscal Year 2021, which ran from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

By contrast, total marijuana sales for the prior 2020 fiscal year amounted to $685 million.

The bulk of the marijuana purchases ($791,100,017) came from Clark County, where Las Vegas is located. Another $135,326,790 of cannabis was sold in Washoe County, with Reno being the major city in that jurisdiction. The $77,040,859 remainder came from other counties.

Ten percent of tax revenue from recreational cannabis sales will support pubic education funding, as prescribed under a bill that Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) previously signed.

“This is what Nevadans expected since the legalization of recreational marijuana,” the governor said in a press release about the new sales data. “Education remains one of my top priorities, and I’m proud to see promised tax revenue from cannabis sales directly funding our students and classrooms.”

Sisolak also signed a bill in June to legalize marijuana consumption lounges in the state.

The new social use license types statewide and giving consumers this option—especially in the tourist-centric state—could further boost marijuana and other tax revenues.

The governor has also committed to promoting equity and justice in the state’s marijuana law. Last year, for example, he pardoned more than 15,000 people who were convicted for low-level cannabis possession.

That action was made possible under a resolution the governor introduced that was unanimously approved by the state’s Board of Pardons Commissioners.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Meanwhile, states across the U.S. have been touting marijuana sales and the resulting tax revenue as markets continue to mature.

For example, Illinois marijuana retailers have sold nearly $1 billion worth of legal recreational cannabis products so far in 2021, officials recently reported.

Maine recreational marijuana sales broke another marijuana sales record in August, exceeding $10 million for the first time since the adult-use market launched in October 2020.

Arizona brought in about $21 million in medical and adult-use marijuana tax revenue in July, state officials reported on a new webpage that enables people to more easily track how the industry is evolving.

California collected about $817 million in adult-use marijuana tax revenue during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, state officials estimated in August. That’s 55 percent more cannabis earnings for state coffers than was generated in the prior fiscal year.

A recent scientific analysis of sales data in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington State found that marijuana purchases “have increased more during the COVID-19 pandemic than in the previous two years.”

In July alone, at least three states saw record-breaking sales for recreational cannabis. The same goes for Missouri’s medical marijuana program.

Michigan marijuana sales broke another record in July with more than $171 million in cannabis transactions, according to data from the state’s regulatory body. There were $128 million in adult-use sales and $43 million in medical cannabis purchases.

Throughout the pandemic, many states allowed cannabis retailers to remain open—with governors and regulators in several markets declaring marijuana businesses to be essential services—and some jurisdictions issued emergency rules allowing curbside pickup, delivery services or other more relaxed policies in order to facilitate social distancing.

Meanwhile, New York officials are projecting that marijuana tax revenue will help keep the state’s budget afloat as cigarette sales continue to decline over the coming years. But retails sales have yet to launch as of now.

Read the marijuana sales data that Nevada officials released below: 

Click to access ccb-dot-cannabis-taxable-sales-data-fy21.pdf

Top Federal Drug Official Gives Maryland Lawmakers Marijuana Legalization Advice At Workgroup Hearing

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Virginia Medical Marijuana Patients See High Prices And Long Waits For Approvals

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Columbia Care’s D.C.-based dispensary sells 3.5 grams of marijuana for $35, compared to the $65 price for the same amount the company charges patients in Virginia.

By Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

As Virginia’s medical marijuana industry closes out its first year of sales, some patients are complaining about long waits to register with the state and high prices once they get into dispensaries.

“A month’s supply costs me between $600 and $700—and that’s not covered by insurance,” says Tamara Netzel, a former schoolteacher from Virginia Beach who suffers from multiple sclerosis and has found cannabis far more effective than any other available pain treatment.

The state’s medical marijuana program is currently the only legal avenue to purchase marijuana in Virginia. The four medical processors currently licensed by the state began opening to patients last October.

But to shop at the medical dispensaries, patients must first get a doctor to write them a recommendation and then apply to the state for a medical marijuana card.

Finding a doctor is easy—dozens of practices have popped up offering to set up online visits with doctors willing to recommend the drug for all manner of ailments. Some even offer deals, promising to reimburse the $100 cost of an appointment if their practitioner declines to sign off on a marijuana card.

But Netzel, who runs a Facebook group for medical marijuana patients, lamented that the next step—getting the state to review an application and issue a medical marijuana card—can take more than a month.

“If a doctor can turn around a letter right away within 30 minutes, why does it take six weeks for the Virginia Board of Pharmacy to send a paper card?” she said.

A spokeswoman for the Board of Pharmacy, Diane Powers, said the board tries to process all applications within 30 business days and is in the process of adding staff to help with an influx of applications, which she said arrive at a rate of more than 1,000 a week.

And by early 2022, she said the board hopes to have a new online application portal in place it says will expedite the process. The board charges patients $50 a year in registration fees.

Patients aren’t the only ones frustrated by the delays. Processors have expressed disappointment at the still-narrow pool of patients who can purchase their products, a figure that as of October 4 sits at just under 33,000.

“You can go to a doctor and get a prescription for an opioid and get it filled the same day, but we have patients waiting six, eight, 12 weeks to get a medical cannabis card,” said Ngiste Abebe, vice president of public policy at Columbia Care, a multi-state operator that sells medical cannabis under its own name in Hampton Roads and recently purchased Richmond-based Green Leaf Medical, which holds the license to sell medical products in central Virginia.

As for the cost of products, Abebe said the small number of patients is one of the reasons costs are still high. With more patients, she said the companies “will have more efficient economies of scale.”

She said the state’s regulations have also contributed to higher costs. She specifically cited Virginia’s status as one of the only states that requires a pharmacist to oversee every aspect of production and sales. The state also requires a pharmacist be available to consult with patients on site.

Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML, the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform Marijuana Laws, noted the state’s decision to limit the program to five producers, who are only allowed to operate in the specific region of the state in which they are licensed.

“Even though it’s completely normal to see higher prices in the early days of retail sales, it’s these two factors—limited points of access coupled with a small patient population — that are leaving Virginians with a serious case of sticker shock,” Pedini said.

Netzel said that before her local dispensary opened for business last year, she made regular trips to the District of Columbia, where gray-market sales have been tolerated for years.

“I would say I was probably paying about half as much as I am now,” she said.

And she said it’s not lost on her that Columbia Care’s D.C.-based dispensary sells 3.5 grams of marijuana for $35, compared to the $65 price for the same amount the company charges patients in Virginia.

But she said that despite the cost, she has remained loyal to the state’s medical market because she wants to see it succeed so more patients will have access to a treatment she said has helped her in a way no traditional pharmaceuticals could.

At the same time, she is pursuing a new avenue to help lower her expenses: She decided to start growing her own now that it is legal.

“So that is, hopefully, going to help with the cost,” she said.

This story was first published by Virginia Mercury.

Kentucky Medical Marijuana Bill Will Pass If Leadership Has ‘Courage’ To Allow A Vote On New Version, Sponsor Says

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Farmers Switch From Raising Chickens For Slaughter To Growing Hemp With Help Of Animal Advocacy Group

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Some farmers are making a financial and ethical transition in the current economy that can be neatly summed up as going from hens to hemp.

The Transfarmation Project, an initiative from the advocacy group Mercy For Animals, helps businesses move away from raising chickens for slaughter to growing crops like industrial hemp instead.

Mercy For Animals—which has also conducted numerous investigations into the agro-industrial complex and released footage of certain businesses in an effort to expose cruelty toward animals—has shared several recent stories of farmers who’ve made the transition to cannabis.

Take the Halley Farm in Texas, for example. For 30 years, the operation “raised six flocks of chickens a year—192,000 birds per batch,” the group said. But with support from the animal activists, the family operation switched over to hemp and recently completed its first harvest.

“Growing something just changes your heart, compared to killing something,” Evan Penhasi, a hemp farmer who aided Halley Farm’s transition from growing birds to growing buds. “And this whole process has transformed a family that really I think was in despair for a very, very, very long time and has transformed it into something now that is thriving and is connected and close.”

“We decided that we would grow hemp and go from killing animals to growing something, from destroying things to creating things.”

“This is the very first successful transfarmation,” Mercy For Animals President Leah Garcés said in a blog post late last month. “There are 12 chicken houses, and they used to house tens of thousands of suffering animals, and now they are going to dry hemp. That is just so beautiful, to see the transformation, the possibilities that can come when people come together and try to find solutions.”

“I am going to work hard to make the chicken houses turn into something that [farmers] can make money off of, that can sustain the land and their families,” she said. “It is such a moment of creation and growth rather than destruction and death. And I just want to be a part of that.”

The group highlighted another transfarmation story where a West Virginia a farmer who previously packed about 45,000 chickens into a warehouse now grows industrial hemp in the same space. Mike Weaver, the business owner, said he was partly inspired to move to cannabis after seeing how it helped a friend with cancer symptoms.

Weaver said that not only is his new hemp business more ethical and better for the environment, but is also much more profitable than his prior chicken slaughtering operation. Next, he plans to make a line of CBD products for pets.

“More and more farmers are seeking a way out of animal farming. Whether they’re fed up with Big Ag’s exploitative contracts or the poor working conditions, they’ve had enough,” Mercy For Animals said. “At the same time, demand for plant-based ingredients is booming, estimated to grow from $8 trillion USD in 2018 to $13 trillion USD in 2025.”

“Credited for this growth is increased demand for clean label ingredients and alternatives to conventional animal products,” the organization said. “Companies in all sectors, from food to household detergents to construction, are sourcing more plant-forward ingredients to fulfill their social responsibilities. Transfarmation connects these trends to the goals of fed-up animal farmers to create a better world for us all.”

Kentucky Medical Marijuana Bill Will Pass If Leadership Has ‘Courage’ To Allow A Vote On New Version, Sponsor Says

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