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Aug 28, 2013 6:12 PM by Associated Press

Rhode Island marijuana dispensary wants delivery service

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A medical marijuana dispensary is asking state health regulators for permission to operate a delivery service.

In its proposal, Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center of Portsmouth says a delivery service will benefit the many medical marijuana patients who are homebound or have difficulties travelling.

"Numerous patients have contacted us enquiring about delivery," Greenleaf CEO Seth Bock said.

Rhode Island's Department of Health announced Wednesday that it is accepting public comment on Greenleaf's proposal. There is no timeline for the decision, which is up to state health director Michael Fine, a health department spokeswoman said.

The center wants to operate daily deliveries in Newport and Bristol counties and deliveries two times a week in the rest of the state. The marijuana would be delivered by two Greenleaf employees using an unmarked car. No deliveries would be made after 5 p.m.

While deliveries in Newport County would be free, residents elsewhere would have to pay a $5 to $10 delivery charge. Cash would not be accepted as payment for the medicinal marijuana.

Greenleaf initially plans to use its director of security to do the deliveries, and other trained security workers could be hired to perform the job if there's enough demand, Bock said.

Rhode Island already allows patients receiving medical marijuana from licensed caregivers to receive it at home, but caregivers are limited to a small number of patients. The state law governing the dispensaries allows them to deliver medicine as long as the service is approved by the health department.

Other states with medical marijuana programs, including Washington and California, already allow pot deliveries, though some cities have moved to outlaw them.

Greenleaf became Rhode Island's second medical marijuana dispensary when it opened in June.

The state's first dispensary, the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center, opened in April in Providence. Spokesman Chris Reilly said Slater has not asked state regulators for permission to offer delivery. The facility has tight security: Patients must provide their authorization for medical marijuana to gain entrance and to prevent theft, the reception window is bulletproof and the lobby wall contains a layer of Kevlar, which is used to make body armor.

The General Assembly approved the dispensaries hoping to provide patients enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program with a safe and reliable source of medicine.

A third dispensary, in Warwick, is expected to open once it receives its final state permit.

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