Dispensary Opens First Medical Cannabis Drive-Thru In The Mid-Atlantic
Responding to the need of medical cannabis patients during the COVID-19 quarantine, Mana Supply Co., a Maryland-based medical dispensary company with two area locations, has opened what’s believed to be not only the first drive-thru medical cannabis dispensary in Maryland, but the entire mid-Atlantic.
The drive-thru is set up to protect medical cannabis patients, many of whom have suppressed immune systems. Remaining in their cars allows them to avoid what are typically close interactions inside the dispensaries. According to experts, there are less than two dozen drive-thru medical cannabis dispensaries in the country.
When scouting locations for the company’s first dispensary in 2015, owners Christopher Jensen and Matt Volz spotted the former bank building just south of the South River on Solomons Island Road and knew it would be perfect for one day converting the drive-thru bank teller lanes to accommodate a drive-thru dispensary to serve patients in the same way that the CVS location does next door. It was a project more than three years in the making. Mana knew that it would be held to a higher standard than a drive-thru pharmacy. Although the dispensary has full-time armed security consisting of off-duty or retired police officers, a year ago Mana installed high-speed garage doors for privacy and placed high-resolution cameras inside and outside the enclosures for security.
The team first sought approvals from County officials, and once secured, they had been working to get regulations approved by state officials on the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). When the virus hit, that day came much sooner than expected. Medical dispensaries are, like pharmacies, considered essential businesses during quarantines but heavy regulations around cannabis also force the patients to come inside and check into a state system.
Since the COVID-19 crisis, the MMCC has been working with dispensaries on ways to effectively protect patients while maintaining a safe delivery system. Working closely with state regulators, Mana worked round the clock to get the drive-thru open. Patients can pre-order via platforms and aren’t required to leave their automobiles or enter Mana. They use an intercom system to interact with Mana staff and their medicines are delivered safely sealed in packaging through a secure drawer at the teller window.
“I’m truly grateful to the leadership provided by Governor Hogan, Anne Arundel County Executive Pittman, and MMCC Executive Director Will Tilburg,” said Jensen. “Their no-nonsense approach to this crisis is saving lives.” Jensen also said it is part of Mana’s mission: “Figuring out the medical cannabis world can be daunting from a patient perspective, so we try to take some of the pain out of that process,” Jensen said. “Many of our patients suffer from enough pain. We make folks feel as confident, empowered and comfortable as possible. The drive-thru is one more step toward that goal.”
Mana is a multi-state operator (MSO) thriving in Maryland, Colorado and Missouri.