If you can pick up your blood pressure prescriptions at your pharmacy’s drive-through window, why can’t you pick up your medical marijuana prescription at a dispensary?
That’s what District 3 City Councilor Crista Patrick and a few of her constituents would like to know. So Wednesday councilors will take up the subject during a council committee meeting. Discussion but no vote is expected.
“I am just trying to take care of the safety of the people that are in my district, so I just wanted to bring it up in public so we can have an honest discussion about unforeseen consequences that I don’t know about,” Patrick said. “Because I am certainly not very knowledgeable about the marijuana industry.”
Oklahomans overwhelmingly approved State Question 788 in 2018, legalizing the sale and use of medical marijuana. The Tulsa City Council later approved an ordinance establishing where and under what conditions growers, processors and dispensaries can operate within the city limits.
The ordinance includes language prohibiting drive-through sales from a dispensary.
Susan Miller, director of the Tulsa Planning Office, said the decision to prohibit drive-through sales was the result of work done by a Mayor’s Office advisory committee that included representatives of the police and fire departments as well as other entities affected by the new law.
“Our thought when it was created was, since it was a cash business, all of those transactions should take place entirely within the confines of the building,” Miller said.
Leta Carmona, a manager at Bloomers Dispensary and Sundries, 6733 E. 11th St., thinks the city got it wrong.
“My theory is, the state and the city, you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth here,” Carmona said. “You want us to be safe, and you want us to ensure that we wear masks, and that we have a protocol that we only have so many people (in the building), but you don’t want to give us the tools to be as safe as we possibly can. That makes no sense to me.”
Bloomers Dispensary operates out of the old Fraternal Order of Police credit union building, Carmona said, and customers are always asking why they can’t take care of business through the drive-through window.
“We have an 84-year-old woman that comes in here on a walker because she cannot use the drive-through,” Carmona said.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the city allows dispensaries and other businesses to offer curbside service. But Carmona said that’s more dangerous for her employees and customers.
“One of my employees can physically walk out of here with product and cash and go to your car, get your money and come back in, which is as unsafe as can be,” she said.
Miller said she is not aware of any other cities in Oklahoma that prohibit drive-through service at dispensaries.
It’s another reason Carmona is frustrated by the regulation.
“I will guarantee you that we would have a slew of people that would use this drive-through,” she said.
Given all the tax revenue the medical marijuana industry is producing, Carmona said, she can’t understand why the city wouldn’t make doing business as easy as possible.
“It makes no sense to me to not give us all the tools that you can possibly give us to make us successful and to keep people safe,” she said.
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