To qualify for Florida’s medical marijuana program, patients must suffer from a “debilitating” condition. For many, this includes mobility impairments. Some physically impaired patients choose to have their medicine delivered, but many prefer the experience of an in-person consultation. Parents with young children may be uncomfortable bringing the children into a dispensary or receiving a cannabis delivery to their house. To better serve these populations, Curaleaf added the state’s first cannabis drive-thru to its Palm Harbor, Fla., dispensary.

Here are 15 tips to help you implement and efficiently operate a drive-thru dispensary regardless of what state you’re in.


1. Have a clearly marked and well-organized route on site. Patients should be able to easily identify where to pull in and how to place their orders.

2. Keep the drive-thru clean and well lit. Patients may be concerned about security, and a well-maintained appearance can reassure patients and community members.

3. Purchase high-quality speaker technology. It is frustrating for patients and associates if they have trouble hearing each other.

4. Use a sliding drawer to transfer money and products to avoid security issues associated with having an unlocked window leading into the dispensing area.

5. Train and practice. Develop a clearly defined, step-by-step process. New employees should gain confidence on the retail floor before being put in the fast-paced drive-thru lane.

Operating Efficiently:

6. Ask new patients to come in for a consultation prior to using the drive-thru. At their consultation, patients should be advised on how to use the drive-thru.

7. Encourage patients to place orders online or by phone prior to drive-thru pick-up. (Depending on patient volume, this may need to be required.)

8. Greet people with a smile and ask for their patient ID. Focus on providing great service at a faster pace.

9. Purchase your medicine using the drive-thru so you can experience the process from the customer’s perspective.

10. Dispensing medical cannabis typically takes longer than selling a cheeseburger, and some patients may become impatient. Explain what you are doing so the patient understands the process behind the wait.

11. Check orders for accuracy before dispensing.

12. Thank patients for their business. Patients have choices when buying cannabis, so let them know how much you appreciate them. Invite patients to call or visit if they have questions or need help.

13. Don’t overthink it. Drive-thru dispensing is not that different from traditional retail. Keep your focus on providing high-quality patient care.

Spread the Word:

14. Offer patients incentives (like product discounts or extra loyalty points) to use the drive-thru. Patients are typically thrilled with the convenience and will tell their friends about how easy it was.

15. Notify patients by text when their orders are ready. Use this opportunity to include information on deals, promotions and loyalty programs.

Editor’s note: Be sure to check your state regulations to see if drive-thrus are permitted.

Evan Eisenberg is Curaleaf’s Palm Harbor, Fla., dispensary manager.

Top photo courtesy of Curaleaf. Curaleaf Palm Harbor uses pneumatic tubes and cash drawers to transfer product and cash to prevent having an unlocked window into the shop.