Brookline’s New England Treatment Access will soon begin medical marijuana deliveries, a new service intended to expand access to patients unable to visit the Washington Street dispensary amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, both the state and the Select Board approved NETA’s request to begin deliveries.
“This is a really important operational change that will bring a much-needed service to medical patients that are home-bound and cannot leave the house, either because they’re under quarantine or because they have immune deficiencies or other reasons,” Jennifer Dopazo Gilbert, an attorney representing NETA, told the Select Board.
The new service also helps the dispensary adapt its business practices to fit a post-coronavirus world, said NETA President Amanda Rositano.
“This COVID crisis has certainly been a difficult experience for us, just like it has been for anyone else in terms of adjusting our business to this new reality,” she said.
In March, Gov. Charlie Baker ordered non-essential businesses across Massachusetts to cease in-person operations. While medical marijuana dispensaries were allowed to remain open, recreational retailers were forced to close. NETA, which sells marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes, has been serving medical patients on a reserve-ahead basis.
“We acknowledge that in the environment that we’re in, we need to take certain precautions and safety measures in order to keep both our staff and our customers safe,” Rositano said.
NETA is now permitted to deliver to patients three days a week, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The business will have five delivery vehicles operating within a five-mile radius of the shop’s Brookline Village location.
Employees making deliveries will wear personal protective equipment, maintaining as much distance as possible and changing gloves after each transaction, NETA told the Select Board.
Patients can order ahead and will need to be registered with both the state and the dispensary itself, according to NETA. They will receive a message when their delivery is arriving, and the NETA employee making the delivery will visually verify the patient’s government-issued ID and process their debit card on a handheld payment terminal. Those terminals will also be sanitized between transactions, NETA said.
A patient may only receive a delivery at their primary address, and the address must match the address on their patient profile, according to NETA. There are also certain addresses where marijuana delivery is prohibited, including university housing, rehabilitation centers and federally-funded housing.
While the new delivery option was borne of necessity amid the pandemic, NETA intends to keep it going once businesses begin to return to more regular operations, Rositano said.
“We are not naive to the fact that social distancing is something that is going to be here for quite some time,” she said.