As of today, patients will be able to pick up their orders from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at a drive-thru window at the state's largest dispensary, the Mint Dispensary, located at 5210 South Priest Drive in Guadalupe.
Customers must first place an order online. Then, a text message alerts them that their goods are ready for pick up. Once they arrive, they present their state medical-marijuana card at the drive-thru window and receive a bag with their order in return.
Raul Molina, the dispensary's chief operating officer, said about eight customers had used the window by noon today but he expects the numbers to swell. The dispensary is offering a 20 percent discount for using the drive-thru over the holiday weekend.
Besides making it easier for physical distancing, the new drive-thru allows customers who use mobility aids or have compromised immune systems to collect their medicine without having to navigate the store.
"We have a lot of patients who are 75, 85," said Molina, who hopes this will help more patients access what they need.
A drive-thru was something Molina had considered for those customers in the past, but didn't think the business would have much luck getting it approved — until COVID-19 hit. Molina said when officials from the town of Guadalupe came by to ask about the dispensary's COVID-19 mitigation measures, they were receptive when to the idea.
"We're thanking COVID for it," Molina said.
The only other medical marijuana drive-thru in the valley was opened by a Sun City dispensary in 2017. Billed as the third-largest medical marijuana dispensary in the country, the Mint employs over 100 people and has another location in Mesa. It plans to open a third dispensary in Cave Creek by the end of the year, and two more in West Phoenix in early 2021.
Currently, there are no plans for drive-thrus at other locations, in part because the Mint fought for expanded square footage at the Cave Creek location instead. Molina said he hopes the Tempe-area drive thru will help normalize the cannabis business and pave the way for future drive-thrus.
Where does he hope to build them?
"Everywhere they let me," he said.