MedBox Coming to Mass.
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
What has been termed as the modern "green rush" is making its way to Massachusetts—and like its historical equivalent for gold in California, it promises to be an extremely lucrative venture. But this isn’t about cash, or even environmental sustainability, like its clever name may suggest. This is about pot in vending machines.
Of course, there is a bit more to it than that. These vending machines are highly secure and meticulously designed medical marijuana dispensing systems, marketed by the company Kind Clinics, and patented as "MedBoxes." Each MedBox contains a temperature sensitive refrigeration system from which infused products and a variety of different strains of medical marijuana are stored and dispensed. Infused products may include food, drinks, and even candy. The machines themselves use fingerprint recognition technology, along with a state issued ID and HIPPA compliant user ID card, to grant access to the products. In addition, consumers are not able to directly interact with the machine, but instead through a qualified operator, as would be the case in any business that provides marijuana over the counter for medical uses. The technology stores detailed information about each patient’s prescription and medical records, preventing consumers from gaining access to more substance than the law allows or beyond
to more substance than the law allows or beyond the expiration of his or her prescription. Currently, the amount and frequency of which a patient is able to obtain marijuana for medical uses is not actually determined by the doctors themselves, but is mandated as a part of the legislation.
Massachusetts’ towns and cities will have approximately 120 days after the start of the new year to update any existing regulations that may apply, and to establish new rules regarding the dispensaries. This includes zoning regulations, which will address where these—and additionally, cultivation businesses—may be located. Because these vending machines would not be available in regular pharmacies, such as CVS or Walgreen’s, but only in registered, state approved dispensary businesses, serious questions have been raised in regard to new zoning rules, such as how close the dispensaries will be allowed to schools, churches, and other areas where children inhabit. The law in Massachusetts has limited the number of dispensaries in the state to 35 for the first year, and no more than five in each of the state’s 14 counties. Several towns, such as Reading and Wakefield, have even discussed banning the dispensaries all together.
So what’s in it for Kind Clinics, and others who have become involved in the industry? Potentially, a lot. Although the state law dictates that all dispensaries must operate as not-for-profit businesses, Kind Clinics function as a consulting group that provides clients, such as "physicians or people who want to get into the business," with resources, support, and expertise. As it states on their website, "The primary goal of Kind Clinics is to be the best consulting group in the medical marijuana dispensary industry and create the most compassionate, safe, and legally compliant medical marijuana dispensary brand in the country."
With successful records in states such as Arizona and Connecticut, it seems that the company will continue to do well with the introduction of its technologies into Massachusetts. Several factors may be responsible for their success: the fact that Kind Clinics provides a system for pharmaceutical dispensation that offers minimal risk and maximum security, or the fact that few competitors exist in the industry with any type of similar technology. In any case, this is an industry in which successful business may mean big bucks. When asked in an interview approximately how much money is flowing through this "green rush," the CEO of Kind Clinics and Medbox inc., Dr. Bruce Bedrick, replied, "The opportunity for this industry to be a multi-billion dollar industry is clear and present." Whether this will mean economic stimulation or corporate profit, critics and supporters alike will have to wait for 2013 to see where the green stuff goes.