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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Washington’s Legal Pot Industry: Medical Marijuana Delivery Services

The recent passing of Initiative 502 legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Washington State, will soon interject the issue of marijuana into every Washington State citizens lives regardless of whether they use the drug or not. There is a separate and independent law that is set apart from 502 in medical marijuana provisions. The medical marijuana delivery business is one of those industries that follow a very different set of rules than Washington’s new recreational drug use law.
Kevin Phillips has been in the medical marijuana delivery business since late 2011. Phillips started the delivery service after seeing the benefits of medical marijuana first hand when his mother started using the drug to relieve her symptoms from a debilitating affliction with Multiple Sclerosis.
Phillips stated that the improvement he saw in his mother’s quality of life when she started using medical marijuana inspired him to start the Therapeutic Health Center - Medical Marijuana Delivery Service.
Therapeutic Health Center gradually grew from one to ten calls a day, within six months their call rate increased to 15 to 25 calls per day.
Patient’s illnesses ranged from chronic pain, fiber myalgia, and stomach problems to life threatening illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s  disease.
Phillips first consulted a lawyer before opening his business - in order to become aware of any legal challenges he might have to face to achieve his goal of starting a medical marijuana delivery service. He was surprised to find that there were very few if any obstacles in his way to legally distribute medical marijuana to authorized patients in Washington State.
All that was required legally to start his business was a standard retail pharmacy license for a nominal fee. Phillips also informed local law enforcement of his intentions, and also the local Chamber of Commerce as well.
Therapeutic Health Center pays city, state, and federal taxes on all medicinal marijuana sales to patients. Prior to the changing of the medical marijuana laws in July of 2011, medical marijuana businesses were allowed to operate as Non- profit agencies, and were not required to pay taxes on marijuana sales. Sales were called donations rather than purchases to legally distribute medical marijuana and avoid tax issues.
Philips stated that he is not worried about the recent legalization of small amounts of recreational marijuana infringing on his profit margins. The legal amount someone can carry on their person is 1 oz. recreationally, compared to being able to possess one and a half pounds of marijuana medically in a 60 day period.
Authorized medical marijuana users are allowed to grow up to 15 marijuana plants, while growing marijuana for the general public is still illegal.
Anthony Pieper has been a medical marijuana delivery driver for Therapeutic Health Center for over a year now. Pieper used to be a member with Therapeutic Health Center as a patient and asked the owner of the company for work one time while purchasing marijuana from T.H.C. Delivery Service; six months later he was surprised by a phone call from Phillips asking him to come to work for them as a driver.
Pieper is a Gulf War veteran who left the military in 2008, according to Pieper; he had been traveling around trying to find his new niche in civilian society after serving his country. Pieper stated that he found that niche in helping people with debilitating medical conditions get medicine they truly need to relieve their suffering when he took the driving job with Therapeutic Health Center. “Helping people who need it is what it is all about, “said Pieper.
When asked what kind of security precautions the drivers use, and what the protocol for being robbed is, Pieper stated that drivers carry licensed concealed fire arms to protect themselves, and that new patients first deliveries through the service are not allowed after 8 PM.
 Pieper also reiterated that as far as he has encountered, patients are honest, friendly, and have actually called the driver in most cases when something is left behind by accident – including money and product left behind by mistake.
 Pieper also pointed out that they have the entire patient’s information already processed in their computers, so it would be very foolish for a patient to be involved in robbing them. The police are immediately notified in cases such as robbery or theft of medical marijuana.