While the blossoming marijuana market can seem like a massive cash-grab, there are several companies finding ways to aid patients that rely on the drug. One such company is Vireo Health of New York, a physician-led business that provides a range of cannabis products to those who diagnosed with a specific debilitating or life threatening conditions . On January 11, Vireo became the first company to receive approval from the New York State Department of Health to operate a medical marijuana home delivery program in Westchester, as well as in all five boroughs of New York City and Long Island.
Ari Hoffnung, CEO of Vireo Health New York — a subsidy of Minnesota-based Vireo Health LLC — explains the company’s overarching mission is to “alleviate pain and suffering of New Yorkers.” They have been doing just this for more than a year at their White Plains dispensary, which they opened after becoming one of the only five companies allowed to dispense marijuana in New York following medical legalization. Hoffnung feels that the New York Department of Health’s recent approval is integral to continuing this mission.
“It is going to be helpful to patients who are homebound or who experience logistical difficulties getting to our dispensary,” says Hoffnung. “It is not so easy for patients afflicted with diseases like ALS or folks who are receiving aggressive chemotherapy as part of their cancer treatment to get out of their house and come in person to our White Plains dispensary. We want to serve those patients where they are and deliver the medical marijuana to patients in their homes, in a safe and secure manner.”
As part of this dedication to safety and security, Vireo has taken several measures to ensure the safety of both their consumers and delivery people. “Patients for many years have been forced to source marijuana from the illicit markets, and one thing you do not get when you buy marijuana in a back alley is any form of quality control,” says Hoffnung. To ensure the products’ quality, all of Vireo’s cannabis is third-party tested by the State of New York in a state-run lab.
“We can’t go into great detail about all of the measures that have been taken, but we worked very closely with that state and with security experts to make sure that the delivery of products would be safe for all those concerned,” explains Hoffnung.
To receive a delivery, patients must be available in-person and present any relevant paperwork to the company’s representatives. And while Hoffnung cannot comment on the exact amount of patients Vireo currently serves, he has high hopes for the new delivery platform, which should roll out in the next 90 days.
Hoffnung is confident Vireo Health of New York will eventually become profitable as more people become aware of its services. “What we don’t know is how many people would enroll in this program if they knew that it would be more convenient,” he notes. “Are there people in Westchester who have simply not enrolled in the program because they’re homebound or because the serious logistical difficulties that they believe they would encounter in trying to get to the dispensary?”
These questions will no doubt be answered as Vireo begins delivering cannabis to patients within the next few months. “We are not a sustainable business now, and to become a sustainable business, the medical marijuana industry needs to serve more patients in New York and we hope home delivery will be one of the mechanisms to broaden the number of patients enrolled in this program,” Hoffnung says.