CAMBRIDGE — The county’s newest business, SunburstPharm, opened on Jan. 30. The medical marijuana dispensary began treating patients and providing tours.
The site at 603 Meteor Ave. is part of a shift in public perception of marijuana and its derivative medicines, which provide relief from a variety of ailments.
“One of the things we focus on is patient care,” CEO Darryl Hill said. Every patient must be certified by a licensed provider, who determines whether or not the condition in question is valid for this kind of medicine. “They have to have a qualifying condition,” Mr. Hill said.
Medical marijuana is used to treat chronic or debilitating diseases and conditions including, but not limited to, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anorexia and seizures.
Once patients are certified, they may go to the dispensary, and register at the front desk. They receive a badge and are then accompanied by a staff member into the secure area of the building, where the products are found.
So then, they get a bag of weed, right?
Not necessarily - the industry and its research are moving past that.
“Sixty percent of who we’ve had come in today haven’t been looking for actual buds,” General Manager Michael Dunaway said. “They want manufactured products.”
These include edible products, pills, oils, and even pens for a quick boost. And they not only come in different forms, but they are also composed of different compounds, made for certain purposes.
But how to determine which item or items is appropriate? “We have an educational portal that we’re integrating,” Mr. Dunaway said.
These are large touch screens mounted on a wall in the secure area, where a patient can indicate his conditions and symptoms, to find the best products. To put it frankly, it’s not just about getting high and feeling better.
Now that research into the properties of cannabis is legal, discoveries are being made of the therapeutic uses of the plant.
So though tetrahydrocannabinol, the well known psychoactive “THC” can calm a mood and reduce pain, sophisticated growers can genetically engineer a strain of marijuana that does not contain that compound. Or if a patient does not want the enhanced appetite marijuana sometimes creates - OK, the “munchies,” - products are available that do not make a patient overeat.
Mr. Hill said providing the right kind of help is one reason he opened the dispensary. “The care-giving aspect of this business is important to me,” he said.
There are other, economic effects already in motion. The facility has created 10 jobs and invested about $1 million in the local economy so far, mostly in the renovation of the building.
Information from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) says that as of May 22, 2018, there were 128 certified patients in Dorchester County. The most common complaint, by 90 patients, was chronic pain. PTSD was cited by 19, and anorexia by four.
Security and legality are emphasized at the business, with locks, cameras, and procedures all in evidence on opening day. “We work closely with state officials,” many of them former law enforcement officers, Mr. Dunaway said.
For more information on SunburstPharm, call 443-972-5501, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.sunburstlpharm.com online. The MMCC’s website address is www.mmcc.maryland.gov.