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Hudson Valley News

Vireo Health Is First In NY To Be Approved For Medical Marijuana Home Delivery

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WAMC, Allison Dunne
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A medical marijuana company in New York has received approval for the state’s first home delivery program.

Vireo Heath of New York will launch the medical marijuana home delivery service within 90 days. Ari Hoffnung is the company’s CEO.

“A large portion of these patients have difficulties coming into our dispensaries. Many patients are homebound,” Hoffnung says. “We want to be able to serve patients where they are and we believe the delivery service will do just that.”

A state Department of Health spokeswoman says Vireo currently is the only registered organization to have such approval. Another application is pending. Vireo is one of five licensed medical marijuana companies in New York. It has dispensaries in White Plains, Queens, Binghamton and Albany. Hoffnung says the program will begin in the areas of the dispensaries in White Plains and Queens, and dispensaries will be used as hubs to serve surrounding counties.

“We will be serving patients initially throughout New York City’s five boroughs, in Long Island and Westchester, but we hope that within a few months we will see demand in other areas and we’ll be able to expand,” says Hoffnung. “The two areas that are most likely for us to expand into are the greater Capital region, since we do have a  dispensary in Albany, and Southern Tier of the state because we have a dispensary in Binghamton.”

As for what the service will cost, Hoffnung says it will be as affordable as possible, but steered clear of giving a figure, saying it will be informed by demand. Delivery pricing and other details will be released over the coming weeks. Hoffnung notes that the more patients who sign up for the service, the more cost-effective it will be. The rollout is in highly populated areas.

“The economic challenge to serve rural areas is that we cannot provide a affordable home delivery service if we’re serving one patient in one county once a month,” says Hoffnung.

Hoffnung points out that state regulations prohibit outsourcing in New York’s medical marijuana industry.

“That means that we need to own everything in house. And that means that it’s so much more challenging to achieve economies of scale because we’re only delivering medical marijuana,” Hoffnung says. “We’re not delivering a hundred other packages from Amazon and Land’s End.”

Company-owned delivery vehicles will be outfitted with safety features, including GPS tracking devices. There is a signup sheet for patients on Vireo’s web site.

As for other developments under New York’s medical marijuana program, in December, the state Health Department announced that chronic pain will be added as a qualifying condition. And now nurse practitioners may certify patients for medical marijuana. The public comment period to allow physician assistants to certify patients for the program ends January 17. The health department will conduct an assessment of public comments before a notice of adoption can be filed. 

According to the state Department of Health, as of January 9, 816 practitioners have registered for the program, and 12,247 patients have been certified by their practitioners.  

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