Tufts responds to new medical marijuana home delivery services

Junior Eric Brook exhales the vapor of medicinal compound CBD as medication for his Crohn’s disease off-campus in Medford on Sept. 17 (Rachel Hartman / The Tufts Daily)

Several medical marijuana dispensaries in Greater Boston are authorized by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to conduct home deliveries. These dispensaries include SAGENATURALS of Cambridge, Patriot Care of Boston and Lowell and Garden Remedies of Newton.

Leane Mysliwy, assistant manager of Garden Remedies, said that the dispensary’s recent launch of home deliveries in late September was met with interest and positive responses by customers who had difficulties finding time to come into the dispensary to pick up orders.

“The feedback I was getting from patients was that it’s a hassle to get to the store, so we talked about it and said ‘why not deliver and try and help?’” Mysliwy said.

Massachusetts state Sen. Pat Jehlen, who serves as senate chair of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, expressed her approval of the delivery program.

“People who are disabled or don’t drive face a real barrier,” she told the Daily in an email. “Deliveries will cost money too, but enable some people to receive their medicine.”

Garden Remedies will deliver to college campuses if students have a legal medical marijuana card and if the campus is their home address, in accordance with DPH guidelines, Mysliwy said.

“If their home residence is on a campus and that’s what their driver’s license says, then that’s not a problem. But we can’t deliver to anywhere that’s not what’s on their driver’s license,” Mysliwy said.

While deliveries can technically be made to college campuses, most universities, like Tufts, have policies in place reflecting the federal law’s view of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, according to Deputy Director of Public Safety Leon Romprey.

“Federal grants are subject to university compliance with the [Drug Free Schools and Communities Act (DFSCA)] and the [Drug-Free] Workplace Act. The university is also subject to the Controlled Substances Act,” Romprey told the Daily in an email. “This prohibits the university from allowing any form of marijuana use on campus.”

Ian Wong, director of Tufts Department of Health Promotion and Prevention, explained that in order for Tufts’ to maintain federal funding, the university must submit reports to the federal government every two or three years to verify that it is in compliance with the DFSCA.

Wong noted the difficulties in navigating state and federal policies that contradict each other.

“We’re in this kind of predicament. The state is saying [medical marijuana] is legal, but the feds are telling us ‘no it’s not legal and if you do violate [the federal policy], we can take away your federal money from you,'” Wong said.

Romprey emphasized that, while medical marijuana dispensaries may choose to deliver to university students, any student with marijuana on campus will be held accountable for their violation of school policy.

“Although those with a medical marijuana card can legally possess marijuana, bringing it onto campus has been and will continue to be a violation of university policy,” Romprey said. “If we receive calls and confirm that students are taking such deliveries, they will be referred to the Dean of Student Affairs Office for administrative action.”

Romprey explained that the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) will regulate potential medical marijuana deliveries to campus now that such services will be made available by some dispensaries.

“If we come into contact with a medical marijuana delivery driver on campus, they would be directed to leave the property of the university and are subject to other legal action,” he told the Daily in an email.

TUPD is consulting with university counsel and state experts on how to address medical marijuana delivery services, Romprey noted.

“We are currently exploring the best approach to proactively reach out to dispensary delivery services, advising them that we are a drug free school zone and that it is incumbent upon anyone visiting our university to fully abide by university regulations,” Romprey said.

Romprey added that, while TUPD will not systemically regulate deliveries made on campus, any suspicious deliveries brought to their attention will be investigated and subject to appropriate legal or administrative action.

Wong explained the details of the Tufts University Medical Marijuana Policy, and how it allows the university to accommodate students with a legally obtained Massachusetts medical marijuana registration card.

“We can’t allow the use of marijuana on campus, but … if someone has a medical card that’s been approved, we’ll talk to you about getting you out of your housing contract to live off campus,” Wong said.

Moving off campus places the student under state jurisdiction, Wong added.

“If they’re off the campus they come under the jurisdiction of the state, not the federal government,” Wong said. “While sitting on this campus the federal government has the say.”

Wong emphasized that, while Tufts cannot permit students to use marijuana on campus, a top priority for the university is the health of students and making sure to offer help to students who may have substance abuse issues.

Mysliwy said that the percentage of college students which make up Garden Remedies’ home delivery clientele is not yet determinable.

Mysliwy explained that Garden Remedies’ home delivery services are currently regulated by the DPH, but this will change once recreational marijuana can be sold in July 2018 and the Cannabis Control Commission becomes the licensing body.