7/1/20 By DAN ULLOA
In the wake of COVID-19’s social distancing regulations, cannabis home delivery has been a major issue.
For many sickly patients, cannabis home delivery is a serious issue. Many have great difficulty traveling due to their condition. Some face challenges due to physical handicaps. Others are afraid of the effects it will have on their poor immune systems.
In the wake of the failure of comprehensive cannabis reform last year, the Jake Honig Act improving the medical marijuana (or clinical cannabis) program passed the legislature and was signed into law last year by Governor Phil Murphy.
“There are a ton of provisions, many of which we prioritized because they had an immediate benefit for patients,” said New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) Deputy Commissioner Jeff Brown regarding the Jake Honig Act which including cannabis home delivery but has yet to be implemented.
He noted that the NJDOH did a survey of the industry at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and found the dispensaries were not ready to begin clinical cannabis home delivery.
Brown said that a lot of NJDOH resources were understandably devoted to cope with the pandemic. They sought to deal with the immediate issues caused by the pandemic such as the need to keep the dispensaries operational and fully safe, along with the long lines that formed.
Thus, implementing telemedicine, reducing the fee for caregivers for to help patients, volume-based discounts, and expediting employee onboarding were given priority since the results would be seen quickly.
Most importantly, the sales tax on clinical cannabis goes down about two percent effective today.
“It’s a big step forward for patients,” Brown said regarding the beginning of cannabis home delivery.
Cannabis Home Delivery and the Dispensaries
Brown said there is no telling how long it will take to approve a dispensary for home delivery. It is based on the dispensaries providing a full application. A complete application includes Standard Operations Procedures (S.O.P.s) for taking orders, ensuring securing, and tracking cannabis home delivery via GPS.
“Honestly it’s up to the industry to see when they can move,” Brown said regarding how long it will take.
Behind closed doors, some have blamed the dispensaries for dragging their feet getting ready to implement home delivery.
“They have done a tremendous job responding to pandemic,” Brown said. He noted they faced many challenges, such as employee turnover and a long wait time which has since been reduced from an average of an hour to 20 minutes.
Among the dispensaries, Harmony in Secaucus has indicated that it is eager to begin cannabis home delivery.
“Home delivery is a huge win for the patients, especially in a time where we have a pandemic, social distancing. The timing couldn’t be better,” said Harmony CEO Shaya Brodchandel. ” It’s going to help deal with COVID and other social distancing issues.
Unfortunately, Brodchandel could not say when their application would be ready for submission to the NJDOH, noting they just received the guidelines.
“It’s certainly on our priority list,” Brodchandel said.
However, once they are approved for cannabis home delivery, Brodchandel anticipated a quick turnaround. He said it only took 48 hours to implement curbside pickup once the NJDOH approved that plan to begin. Also, some of the infrastructure used for curbside pickup can be adopted for home delivery. It would take some time to reach full capacity once it begins though.
Brodchandel noted that Harmony is not geographically restricted to where it can do business. Thus, they can begin delivering to patients near the dispensary and going outward to elsewhere in North Jersey, to Central, and South Jersey.