A medical marijuana provisioning center in Niles applied to the state of Michigan on Tuesday morning to be able to make home deliveries of marijuana.
It got the OK from the state Tuesday afternoon.
The swift response floored owner George Lynch. He and his wife, Denise, opened Green Stem at the beginning of March. They, like most everybody else, have waited months to get various approvals from the state as they set up their marijuana establishment.
“It’s amazing,” George Lynch said. “But this is a real world problem the state is trying to solve on the fly.”
Following an executive order from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency is making it easier for medical patients and adult-use retail customers to buy marijuana at arm’s length.
State approval for marijuana business licensees to offer home delivery, which is allowed under state law, is happening within 24 to 48 hours — or sooner.
As of midday Wednesday, 85 of 224 medical provisioning centers had been approved for home delivery, and 17 of 72 adult-use retailers, according to David Harns, communications manager for Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Licensees also can get temporary approval to offer curbside pickup outside of shops. That option is expected to disappear after the coronavirus crisis, Harns said.
Harns said the measures are intended to help patients and adult-use customers avoid coming into proximity of too many people inside shops and also to protect the safety and health of workers.
Harns said he could not comment on why the state had not imposed restrictions on marijuana establishments, while many other types of enterprises have been ordered temporarily shut.
George Lynch said he thinks the state is treating medical provisioning centers — many of which also sell adult-use marijuana — like pharmacies.
“We have a lot of senior citizens who are our patients,” Denise Lynch said. “We certainly want to service their therapy, which may be for pain, and anxiety levels are high right now.”
Three area shops sell marijuana either to patients and or adult-use customers.
Green Stem, a medical marijuana provisioning center, has already started offering curbside pickup for patients behind its store on 11th Street. Patients can drive to the shop and phone in. An employee will bring them a menu, fill the order and complete the transaction at the car.
Green Stem hopes to begin home delivery Thursday once it is able to take orders from its website.
George Lynch anticipates deliveries within 30 miles in Michigan. He notes you have to hold a medical marijuana patient card from the state of Michigan to buy at Green Stem currently, but the store hopes by the end of the month to be able to sell to adult-use customers.
Also, the state is temporarily allowing home delivery for patients whose residential address may not match the address on their state card, Harns said.
The ReLeaf Center of Niles also is offering curbside service at its location on Terminal Road in the Niles industrial park. ReLeaf sells both medical marijuana for Michigan patients and recreational marijuana for any adult.
Customers can use the curbside option by calling the store, speaking with an employee to provide certain information, including products wanted, and taking down a reference number, according to a press release from ReLeaf. The customer will give the reference number to an outdoor attendant, who will scan the customer’s identification, process payment and deliver the order.
Randy Barr, director of compliance for ReLeaf Center, said the store hopes to offer home delivery in the future but had not applied to the state as of Tuesday.
Zen Leaf, on Front Street in Buchanan, currently is not offering either home delivery or curbside service but is looking into adding those options, according to David Spreckman, who handles public relations and marketing for the company.
Zen Leaf sells medical marijuana to card-carrying patients and soon should be able to start sales for adult use, Spreckman said.
The store does offer patients the option of ordering online and stopping by for quick pickup and checkout, he said.
All the marijuana establishments said they are following state and federal health recommendations for sanitizing hands and surfaces, covering coughs and sneezes, discouraging anyone who’s ill from coming in, and keeping customers and staff a safe distance apart.
Employees are wearing gloves, too, for handling cash, Denise Lynch said.