Marijuana dispensaries fill a need
I strongly support a medical marijuana dispensary in Montpelier. The program offers Vermonters with debilitating medical conditions and symptoms the opportunity to buy medical-grade marijuana and receive information on what strains will help alleviate their symptoms.
The Vermont Legislature set up a medical marijuana registry for Vermonters program in 1994. Patients or their registered caregivers can possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana or grow marijuana indoors for their own use.
The gap in the registry is that many people who would benefit from the use of marijuana to reduce their symptoms are shut out because they can’t grow marijuana and don’t know where or how to purchase marijuana on the street. One patient asked a legislative committee, “Do you know what a person who sells marijuana looks like?” So, they don’t bother to join the registry.
Medical-grade marijuana is very difficult to grow, and it can be very difficult to obtain the particular strain that will relieve specific symptoms. It is also expensive.
The medical marijuana dispensary system addresses these gaps.
Dispensaries are licensed to cultivate and possess at any one time up to 28 mature marijuana plants, 98 immature plants and 28 ounces of usable marijuana. They can also sell and dispense marijuana, marijuana-infused products, educational materials, and marijuana-related supplies such as pipes and vaporizers to registered patients or their caregivers. No more than 2 ounces of prepared marijuana may be dispensed to a registered patient in a 30-day period.
Dispensaries must provide education about medical marijuana to their patients, including information about the different strains of marijuana, what symptoms they relieve, and appropriate dosages.
Dispensaries are nonprofits and can receive reasonable monetary compensation for costs as long as the dispensary has a sliding-scale fee system that takes into account the patient’s ability to pay.
Dispensaries are not stores. Only patients or their caregivers can use the dispensary — and they must make an appointment in advance.
Vermont dispensaries are highly regulated and subject to state inspections at any time. Legislators, the Department of Public Safety and consumers have worked over the years through many sessions to pass a bill that provides medical marijuana to eligible Vermonters and also addresses the concerns of state and town officials. (For more information: www.Vermont.gov/marijuana_registry.)
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