BRATTLEBORO -- The state's newest dispensary for medical-marijuana patients is open for business.
Southern Vermont Wellness opened Tuesday at 1222 Putney Road. And Executive Director Shayne Lynn, who also directs Burlington's dispensary, said things have gone smoothly so far in Brattleboro.
"We're excited to be down there and looking forward to serving the local community," Lynn said. "It feels like a privilege to do this."
State officials last year announced that Brattleboro had been approved for the state's fourth dispensary, joining facilities in Burlington, Brandon and Montpelier.
Brattleboro Development Review Board in December voted 6-0-1 to give Lynn a permit to operate Southern Vermont Wellness in a building in front of the former Steak Out restaurant.
Medical marijuana in Vermont is a highly regulated, high-security business. So Lynn said those who are interested in receiving the drug shouldn't show up on Southern Vermont Wellness' doorstep.
Patients must be on the state's medical-marijuana registry to qualify. And Lynn emphasized that getting on that registry involves working through a doctor to receive state approval.
More information about the state's marijuana registry is available at www.vcic.vermont.gov/marijuana_registry.
At this point, Southern Vermont Wellness is operating from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are roughly 35 patients registered for the new dispensary.
"We'll expand hours as more people register with us," Lynn said.
He has hired two part-time staff here, "and we have additional staff that is traveling down from Burlington to help," he said.
"We've seen roughly 15 patients so far, and everything's gone smoothly," Lynn added Friday. "People are just happy there's a dispensary in southern Vermont."
He sees potential for growth here. On the state's marijuana-registry website, there is a map showing that, as of August, Windham County's number of approved medical-marijuana patients (106) was second only to Chittenden County (146.)
"That was one of the reasons we wanted to open in Brattleboro, because of that map," Lynn said.
There also is potential for expansion due to a bill that has been introduced by Windham County Sen. Jeanette White, a Putney-based Democrat who says the state's medical-marijuana program has worked well.
White's bill would make changes including removing a statewide registration cap of 1,000 patients; allowing creation of two additional dispensaries; and permitting dispensaries to deliver medical marijuana to homebound patients.
Lynn said he has seen a need for the latter provision at his Burlington dispensary, noting that some patients are disabled and have trouble navigating harsh winter weather.
"I think the delivery option is good," he said.
Overall, Lynn said the Senate bill shows that Vermont's program, while still "very small," has established a solid business model for dispensing medical marijuana.
"The state of Vermont has probably the most-regulated program in the country," he said. "I think this goes to show that the regulations have worked."
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.