PHOENIX — Customers of some medical marijuana dispensaries are discovering this week that they don't have to go far if they have a case of the munchies.
A few days after a teenager sold dozens of cookie boxes outside a San Francisco pot dispensary, 8-year-old Lexi Menees is returning to TruMed Dispensary in Phoenix on Saturday for the same purpose.
The girl's mother, Heidi Carney, got the idea after hearing about what happened in San Francisco.
"For me, this isn't anything controversial," Carney said. "It's medication. It's no different than standing in front of a Walgreens or a CVS."
Lexi and her parents came on Friday with between 100 and 150 boxes to sell. Her family said they sold more than 50.
"It's better than she would've gotten outside a grocery store," said Justin Menees, Lexi's father.
Susan de Queljoe, a spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, said selling in front of marijuana dispensaries isn't something the organization would encourage, but that it's up to the parents.
"The girls' safety is our primary concern. So we give guidelines out to all the parents and hope that they will follow them," de Queljoe said.
Lauren Gooding, an oncology nurse who is the president of TruMed, runs the state-licensed facility with her father and brother. Gooding said Carney called her Friday morning with the idea, and she was immediately on board. In fact, she had already received several messages on Facebook about the San Francisco sale with people suggesting she do the same thing, Gooding said.
Gooding also sent a text message to more than 2,000 customers about the cookie sale and threw in a tie-in deal: Patients who buy at least half of an ounce of pot will have their pick of a free box of Thin Mints, Samoas or any of the other cookie choices.
"People will wait to buy when there are incentives," Gooding said.
She hopes the presence of the Girl Scouts will help eliminate the stigma tied to medical marijuana dispensaries, Gooding said. Furthermore, with a security guard always on site to ensure nobody illegally consumes their pot purchase, there is no danger of Lexi or any child being exposed to marijuana, she said.
"We are not promoting medical marijuana to her," Gooding said.
Girl Scouts officials said they aren't surprised there are copycats after the story of 13-year-old San Francisco Girl Scout Danielle Lei went viral on social media and various news outlets. Lei set up a cookie table Monday outside The Green Cross, a licensed marijuana dispensary in that city's Mission district.
Kevin Reed, president of the dispensary, said Lei's mother, a secretary for a city task force on medical cannabis, approached him a couple weeks ago.
"She wanted to help break down the barriers around medical marijuana," Reed said. "I thought it was extremely sweet. So of course with open arms I said yes."
Reed said this isn't the first time Lei has sold cookies in front of other pot facilities. She did it the last two years but is just now getting attention for it, he said.
The feelings of Girl Scouts officials on the matter seem to vary state to state. Earlier this month, reports about Girl Scouts implementing the same strategy in Colorado, where recreational marijuana is now legal, turned out to be a hoax. The Girl Scouts of Colorado issued a statement on its Facebook page Friday to dispel the rumor, effectively prohibiting members from selling at a dispensary.
"We recognize these are legitimate businesses, but we don't feel they are an appropriate place for girls to be selling cookies in Colorado," the organization said.
Carney said she and her husband simply told Lexi they would try setting up in front of a facility that is similar to a pharmacy, where people go to get their medicine.
"She doesn't even know where she's at. It's more entrepreneurial," Carney said. "She's trying to go to camp this summer."