“It’s so much easier. It’s literally effortless,” Kalatschan said. “It’s just like ordering food.”
The medical marijuana dispensary is smaller than most. It used to be an old bank. Patients say its size and store motto, “Ohana,” a Hawaiian term for “family,” give it an intimate, friendly feel.
But now, it’s the dispensary’s outdoor features that customers value most.
When coronavirus precautions intensified in mid-March, the dispensary’s drive-through was already equipped to get customers their medicine while maintaining social distancing.
Owners Christopher Jensen and Matt Volz saw the drive-through window as an opportunity for disabled patients and frequent customers. They invested $100,000 last summer on an intercom system, high-resolution cameras and secure garage doors.
But without a change in statewide regulations, the drive-through couldn’t legally open. Jensen and Volz were preparing to submit a regulation proposal to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission in April. Then, covid-19 hit the state.
When Gov. Larry Hogan (R) shut down all bars, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters the week of March 16, dispensaries across the state moved to offer curbside pickup.
Gold Leaf in Annapolis, which added a curbside pickup option for the pandemic, reported an increase in sales during the first announcements by Hogan and President Trump that the coronavirus had reached the United States.
Medical marijuana dispensaries, growers and processors were deemed essential health-care operations under Hogan’s widespread order to close nonessential businesses.
The decision was a relief for small-business owners and patients worried about accessing their medicine.
“It would be a lot of suffering, a lot of anxiety, a lot of problems out there beyond what they’re having to deal with in their isolation and their quarantines right now,” Jensen said. “For us, it would knock out another 45 jobs in Maryland.”
Medical marijuana dispensaries serve many immunocompromised patients and were instructed to operate under strict social distancing orders. Mana has a second location in Baltimore County that’s doing curbside pickup, but staff and patients still interact to exchange money and cannabis.
The drive-through eliminates person-to-person contact by passing goods through a sanitized drawer in a wall. Health for Life Baltimore in Dundalk also opened a drive-through following social distancing orders.
“The drive-through is literally the perfect solution to everything,” said Annapolis resident Yony Cruz, a Mana patient.
“They’re keeping the workers safe, they’re keeping everything on the inside more sanitary because there’s less volume of people inside, and everyone is getting their medicine.”
Source: The Washington Post
Image: Daniel Hawkins, who has chronic neck pain, picks up his order from Mana Supply Co. in Edgewater, Md. (Paul W. Gillespie/Baltimore Sun Media)