After more than a year of planning, Burlington dispensary operator Shayne Lynn began selling medical marijuana to patients late last week.
High expenses from state regulation will make turning a profit difficult, but he says early returns indicate the green business may be able to stay out of the red.
"We're hoping by the end of the year to have 150-200 patients and that I think would help keep us viable," Lynn said.
Vermont state law prevents reporters and photographers from entering the site, just one of many privacy and security provisions.
Lynn and his small staff are growing about eight different varieties of marijuana, each directed for different medical conditions. Per ounce, his prices range from $225 to $450.
"I have multiple, severe pain conditions," said a registered patient, who is a client of another dispensary.
He agreed to speak with us on the condition of anonymity. He says it took more than a year to get a doctor's recommendation. When he finally entered a dispensary last week, his hope for pain relief dissolved.
"Since I couldn't afford a daily therapeutic dose, I elected to do the hard thing and walk out with nothing," he said.
He receives about $1,000 a month in disability payments and says prices ran from $330-$530 an ounce. He has prescriptions for opiates, but worries about their addictive potential.
The operator of that dispensary declined our interview request.
"Of course we'd like to be able to offer it for less. Is it possible is another question," Lynn said.
Lynn says at the moment his prices don't leave much margin. He's also concerned that dropping prices too low will increase the temptation for patients to illegally sell their drugs.
The anonymous patient hopes to start a co-op dispensary with subscriber fees rather than sales.
"I've crunched the numbers and I believe I can make it work," he said.
The state is limiting the number of dispensaries to four, and only one available license remains.
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