BOSTON—Beginning next month, a Brockton-based medical marijuana dispensary will become the first in Massachusetts to provide same-day home delivery to card-carrying patients across the state. The move, first reported by the Boston Globe, is expected to ease access for limited-mobility patients and those who live far from the state’s few dozen dispensaries.
Homebound patients have long struggled to get quality, affordable medicine in timely manner.
The statewide service, In Good Health, is set to kick off Monday, April 3, and will require minimum orders of $100. Delivery fees will range from $30 to $75, depending on location. And for now the dispensary won’t deliver to the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
The company will join another dispensary, Patriot Care, which currently offers limited local delivery around Boston and Lowell.
“We have proudly and successfully served thousands of patients since our dispensary opened in September 2015, but it has become apparent that a segment of the population has been underserved, such as patients who are too ill to visit a dispensary or who live several towns away from the nearest dispensary,” In Good Health’s president, David Noble, said in a statement.
But not everyone’s so optimistic. Mike Crawford, a medical marijuana patient and longtime Bay State cannabis activist, said he’s wary of the news. He’s specifically concerned about the pricing and delivery fees in legal cannabis industry that he sees as already focused more on money than patient care.
“Product from dispensaries like In Good Health are already at a premium price point, and will now add a delivery fee, all for an industrial grown product,” Crawford said. “I’m not anti-dispensary but I am anti-monopoly, and all patients should have access to medicine, be it from a dispensary, a home grow, or a gray-market caregiver.”
Homebound patients have long struggled to get quality, affordable medicine in timely manner, he said. They’re bound to have tough questions for the new service.
“Are they going to deliver from Brockton to Hyannis every day, in the summer, during peak times?” Crawford asked, referring to the notorious Cape Cod traffic bottleneck notorious for plaguing travelers during the summer.
Many Massachusetts medical marijuana patients already rely on gray-market services—designated by patients as caregivers—in spite of concerns voiced by state health officials and patient advocates, who worry about the lack of background checks and untested medicine—not to mention questionable legality.
Noble of In Good Health acknowledged that his dispensary charges more than most gray-market services, but he told the Globe that “most patients would be willing to pay a premium for products whose quality has been verified.”
Grant Smith, housebound cannabis patient
Grant Smith, a 27-year-old housebound medical marijuana patient, fell ill overnight in 2014 with trigeminal neuralgia, which reduced vision in his right eye. The condition has prohibited him from driving or even being outside in general, so he has relied on the gray-zone caregiver model to procure his medicine.
“When I first starting using caregivers in 2014, it was like Wild West, dealing with people who wanted to meet at a Target parking lot,” he said. Eventually he began working with a local caregiver, whom he relied on for a year to consistently provide medicine. Not only did the effort keep him out of the hospital, but it “reduced my pharma-narcotic usage by about a third,” Smith said. Six months ago, his caregiver was arrested and shut down, causing a weeks long gap in service. The situation forced to Smith go through the laborious process of screening caregivers all over again.
“Caregivers have better operating procedures than dispensaries I’ve found, and higher quality products,” Smith said. “Every caregiver I’ve ever found running a legit, patient-centric operation would take the time to learn what’s wrong with me and know which strains and medicine would work best.”
In an email to Leafly, Noble said the decision to roll out In Good Health’s delivery service next week stems from the dispensary having been open for 18 months. The business currently serves a patient population of roughly 10,000 in the region, he said, and saw a chance to expand while improving the situation for patients.
In Good Health, “saw an opportunity to improve access to safe, legal medical marijuana through this convenient delivery service,” Noble wrote. When asked about the mixed reviews of his products and services in online discussions and Yelp reviews, he told Leafly that “we are confident in the quality and medical benefits of all our products, and any critical feedback we received in the early days of our operation has been incorporated into our continuous quality assurance and customer satisfaction efforts.”
Smith remains skeptical of the dispensary-based delivery service, saying he’s noticed an uptick in dispensaries criticizing the caregiver model. A lobbyist for Patriot Care said in March that caregiver delivery services were selling “marijuana moonshine.”
But ultimately, Smith and a growing chorus of patients simply want an even playing field for all who need and rely on medical marijuana for better quality of life.
“I’ll happily support those that encourage competition in the market,” he said. “That’ll be my final arbiter for using a dispensary delivery service over a caregiver who spends time with me to figure out what’s best for me personally. Dispensaries don’t do that in my experience.”