Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Coming Soon in Southern West Virginia | State and region
Medical cannabis dispensaries are coming to southern West Virginia, but it will likely be 2022 before they open.
A large billboard in Lewisburg on Jefferson Street, just past Walmart, can be seen announcing that a Greenlight dispensary is “coming!” “
Greenlight is also planning to open dispensaries in Beckley, the Beckley Plaza Shopping Center, as well as Stollings, Princeton and Bluefield.
John Mueller, president of Greenlight, said construction of the five stores is expected to be completed by the end of January.
Construction is also underway for a Colombia Care dispensary located in the Galleria Plaza in Beckley.
Keri Stan, Colombia Care’s regional director for cannabis stores in West Virginia, said Beckley’s site opening date would be early 2022.
She added that Colombia Care recently opened a dispensary in Williamstown and also secured locations for dispensaries in storefronts in St. Albans and Morgantown.
Stan said the company has a fifth dispensary license, but has yet to “determine where specifically we’re going to put it.”
The West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis, which issues the licenses, lists Colombia Care’s fifth site as Fayetteville.
The state has also licensed three other companies that are planning to open dispensaries in southern West Virginia, according to the Office of Medical Cannabis website.
These companies are V3 WV Vending, Terrasana and Verano.
As with any new industry, there should be a learning process for everyone involved, from the patients who research cannabis as a new treatment option, to the doctors who recommend it, to the growers and processors who make the product, and to the dispensaries who are looking for cannabis as a new treatment option. sell it.
Dr Hassan Asghar Jafary, an internal medicine doctor at Beckley, said he was eagerly awaiting the opening of dispensaries in Beckley and has started approving the use of medical cannabis for several patients.
In order for patients to purchase medical cannabis at dispensaries in West Virginia, they must obtain a medical cannabis card.
Part of obtaining the card is receiving a referral from a doctor registered with the state’s Office of Medical Cannabis.
Jafary said it is a doctor’s job to determine if a patient has a serious medical condition that would qualify them to obtain medical cannabis.
These conditions include cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), epilepsy, terminal illness, chronic or intractable pain, and more.
Once a doctor has verified that a patient is eligible, the patient then applies for a medical cannabis card from the Office of Medical Cannabis.
Jafary said that two of the most common conditions he encounters in patients who apply for a medical cannabis card are PTSD and chronic or intractable pain, which describes pain that is difficult to treat or manage.
âI’m glad that (medical marijuana) is legally available to the public,â he said. âI never understand our country’s animosity towards marijuanaâ¦ The federal government approves cancer drugs that are deadly toxic, and it approves the manufacture of many chemicals. But to restrict this benefit of a plant to a certain company, I feel like it’s cruelty.
As the industry establishes itself here, Jafary said he hopes the stigma associated with marijuana slowly begins to fade as more people get to know it.
Especially for West Virginia’s population, which is older than most others in the country, has a high number of people with disabilities and heavily dependent on narcotics, Jafary said the medical cannabis industry should be seen as a great opportunity to change people’s lives.
âWe have to help people as much as we can. “
Colombia Health clinics
Stan said moving Colombia Care to West Virginia was an easy decision.
âWe see the need for patient services in all of the states in which we operate,â she said. âThere is an opportunity for us to step in and create clinics that facilitate patient access to truly meet the needs of the communities in which we operate. Dispensaries are sometimes rare; whenever we can come in and help with access, I think we see that as a good thing.
Stan says Colombia Care currently has dispensaries in 15 states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.
Stan, who previously worked in the Ohio market with Columbia Care, said the company has yet to hire a team for the Beckley store, which will be located at 300 Galleria Plaza, but expects the store to have at least six full-time employees. and ideally add more as the business grows.
She added that once they finalize the leadership team for Beckley’s location, they will start contacting local government officials, law enforcement and organizations.
âWe love to be involved in the community … to make sure we have a positive impact on our community,â she said.
At their Williamstown location, Stan said they are teaming up with the local American Legion Post to help veterans fundraisers.
Stan said the reception at Williamstown has been warm and filled with enthusiasm so far.
As a new industry, Stan said people have a lot of questions too.
âIt’s a new industry; it’s not something that a lot of people have experienced yet, âshe said. “But I think we can help empower with educational opportunities for the public.”
Stan said Columbia Care is also licensed to growers and processors through the state’s Office of Medical Cannabis to source their own products. This facility is located in Falling Water, Berkeley County.
As per state guidelines, Stan said all cannabis products sold at dispensaries in West Virginia must be grown and processed in the state. She said it was a rule most states are likely to adopt to avoid transporting cannabis products across states where it is not yet legal.
Stan said the dispensary’s products will include dry flowers for vaporization; concentrates; tinctures, which pass under the tongue; and topicals.
âOur goal is to offer everything that we are legally allowed to offer so that we can have a better variety of options for arriving patients,â she said. âEverything is different for each individual, and the more options you have for people, the better their relief will be, because things work differently for everyone. “
In the Ohio market, Stan said their most popular item as well as the most recommended item by doctors was the dry flower for vaporization.
Since many patients coming to West Virginia clinics will not be familiar with cannabis, Stan said, as part of their standard practice, each new patient will go through a consultation with one of the technicians at the clinic.
Stan said the general rule they tell all of their patients is “start slow, start slow”.
Based on her experience in Ohio, Stan said she has seen some of the medical benefits of cannabis with her own eyes.
âOne of the first patients I had in Ohio was a kid who had never been to school because he had 200 seizures a day,â she said. âBut after getting medical help and using medical marijuana, they were able to go to school for the first time when they were 11 years old. We sobbed for days when we heard this.
For more information on Columbia Care, visit col-care.com
Green light for dispensaries
Mueller said Greenlight has already seen interest in its West Virginia dispensaries.
He said people have signed up on their website to receive SMS alerts for updates.
He added that there is a bit of a waiting process when it comes to opening, especially for Greenlight, which does not have any producer or processor licenses.
Mueller said all cannabis products sold at Greenlight will have to originate from other facilities in West Virginia.
He also pointed out that the products they sell are from a plant that takes a long time to grow, 90-120 days, and most facilities start growing a small number of plants and grow from there. .
âAlthough we have completed our construction (in January), we also need to make sure that we have products that people can walk in so that they can get their meds,â Mueller said. âIt’s a delay between growing and preparing a product to put on the shelves. “
With only a handful of dispensaries already open, Mueller said there was also an unknown about how long it took the state to give the green light for dispensaries to open.
Mueller equated the process to what liquor stores have to go through before they open.
He said the state must come in and inspect the location to make sure it meets all requirements, from a properly functioning safe to cameras, security and more.
Mueller said he expects each dispensary to have between 10 and 15 employees.
âWe work on finding our CEOs, who we select from the region, and then we let the CEOs select the people below them,â he said.
With Greenlight dispensaries already open in Missouri and Arkansas and others under construction in Illinois, Mueller said integration into the local community was essential.
âWhen you get started and you get the strategic hiring of your GM, and then all the people come out of the community, that’s the most important thing we can do,â he said. âPeople want to feel comfortable shopping with someone who cares about them.
âWe also do all the local events because we want to be part of the community and at the end of the day it feels like once people get over the stigma all of a sudden Greenlight doesn’t is more frightening and it’s just an alternative to taking a designer drug.
Overall, Mueller said Greenlight has served more than 100,000 patients at its dispensaries, all of which are located in states that allow cannabis for medical purposes only.
âThe selling point of our entire industry is that if we can take a designer drug (from the patent body) the better for them,â he said. âUsually, most of the time, it’s about managing the pain. There are cancer patients, nausea, and whatever else is approved.
“But if we can take a pill off the protocol, then their lives will slowly start to improve.”
Mueller said he has seen people’s lives change by using medical cannabis.
Last week, Mueller said a patient with visible symptoms of Parkinson’s disease visited a Greenlight dispensary.
Mueller said the patient came to the clinic on a Tuesday and on Thursday they were already seeing results, ranging from reduced tremors to ease in performing daily functions.