Medical marijuana won’t be available in Philadelphia for more than a year, but when it finally arrives, patients may have it delivered to their doors like a pizza or pick it up at a dispensary tucked inside a large shopping mall.
In a council hearing Friday, city planner Paula Brumbelow suggested home delivery as a way of ensuring access to those who need it most.
Some jurisdictions already permit medical marijuana dispensaries to provide this service. Last week, New York State authorized delivery to people who are too sick to travel. There could be other advantages to courier service, such as avoiding pot businesses near schools, daycare centers and churches.
(Delivery) may also allow us to be conservative on the locations of dispensaries and possibly future recreational stores, Brumbelow said.
When the regulations governing the states cannabis industry are finally adopted, entrepreneurs will be able to apply for permits to grow or dispense. The total number of licenses allowed by the state law is limited to 25 for cultivators and 50 for dispensary operators.
Lindy Snider, who has launched several cannabis start-ups, also stressed the importance of making medical marijuana accessible.
Just like pharmacies, patients should not have to drive clear across town to an industrial area to access medicine, she said in her testimony, advising council to guarantee dispensaries are geographically spread out and close to public transportation.
Snider also serves on the advisory board for Jefferson Universitys Center for Medical Cannabis Education & Research. She announced the center will be launching an initiative soon to focus on business and social justice issues in the medical cannabis industry.
Ultimately, zoning will govern where dispensaries and indoor growing operations are located. State law bans both from being within 1,000 yards of a school or daycare. But the city can apply for waivers, Brumbelow said.
The dispensaries will go where Council and the community want them, she said. Though nothing has been formalized, Brumbelow said planners likely would permit dispensaries in most commercial districts.
During his testimony, City Health Commissioner Tom Farley said he worried that marijuana products, specifically THC impregnated gummi bears, might end up in the hands of children.
We dont want marijuana that looks like candy or is not in child proof containers, Farley said.
State Sen. Daylin Leach assured Farley that state law forbids dispensaries from selling fully prepared edibles. But patients will be able to buy kits that will allow them to add medical marijuana products to any food they want.
Farley responded that the legislation was complicated, and he had not had the opportunity to thoroughly review the law.
The two parried about whether marijuana was addictive. Farley advised caution, saying there were considerable health risks with using this substance. Leach, who has made medical cannabis his signature issue, disagreed, reminding the doctor that unlike opioids or alcohol, there is no lethal dose of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
Leach said patients might become psychologically dependent on marijuana. But dependence wasnt equivalent to a physical addition.