MA: A Look Inside The First Medical Marijuana Dispensary To Open In Wareham

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Photo Credit: Matthew Bernat

Five years after it was a first announced, a medical marijuana dispensary is set to open this month in a historic property on Main Street.

A grand opening for Verilife, 112 Main St., will be held in Besse Park (located across the street from the dispensary) on May 31 from 4 to 7 p.m. Officials from Pharmacannis Massachusetts, Inc., the company that owns and operates the dispensary, said the facility is tentatively set to open May 22.

“We’re super excited to start serving patients in Wareham,” said Shelley Stormo, executive director for Pharmacannis Massachusetts. “It’s been a pleasure working with the town and I anticipate that will continue.”

The opening will end a lengthy process that featured the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts. Recreational sales were not part of the company’s original plan. However, in response, Stormo said Verilife will sell product later this summer. A date has not yet been determined.

In the meantime, Verilife will be focused on medical patients. The first floor of the building is nearly complete. During a recent tour, Stormo explained security measures, the patient intake process and sales.

Before a patient a walks through the dispensary’s doors, they must show a medical marijuana card and another form of identification. Patients are then buzzed inside where an employee will double check identification.

New patients are provided educational material and for those that want to receive one-on-one consultations in a private room. Afterward, they are brought into the dispensing area, which is also secured and requires patients to be buzzed in, where they can buy marijuana and check out a small selection of pipes, vaporizers and more.

Stormo said those products are sold for the benefit of patients.

“Many of our patients are 55 and older and may not be comfortable walking into a head shop,” said Stormo.

The interior is modern and uncluttered. Medicine and products are stored behind locked glass shelves during the day and moved into a vault every night.

Marijuana sold at the site will be tested following state guidelines. Starting in 2019, most of the cannabis sold at the company’s Wareham site will be grown at a Pharmacannis-owned facility in Holliston. Until then, products for sale will be purchased through Massachusetts-based wholesalers, said Stormo.

Medical patients will be limited to purchasing 10 ounces of cannabis every 60 days. Adult use customers, who must be 21 or older, may purchase 1 ounce of cannabis over that same period, said Stormo.

Security will be tight at the facility. Everyone entering the building must have a valid ID or medical cannabis card, and there will be 24-hour video surveillance with a robust alarm system, said Stormo.

“Everything is restricted access,” she said.

She noted that under state law, employees reserve the right to turn away potential customers who “are not appropriate for any reason.”

Stormo said Verilife is emphasizes patient care, ensuring they are using the medicine properly.

“It’s not a traditional, ‘take this pill three times a day,’ type of prescription,” said Stormo. “We tell patients to go low and slow, seeing how the medicine will affect them and follow up to make sure the dose is right…It’s a collaborative process.”

Delivery of medical marijuana from Verilife is set to start in July. There will be no deliveries for recreational marijuana, she said.

Stormo noted that six employees will be on site during the day and the dispensary is projected to serve 2,000 individual patients during the first year it’s open.

The dispensary will bring in some additional money for the town. As part of the company’s host agreement with the Town of Wareham, $100,000 will be paid to the town this year, $125,000 in 2019 and $150,000 in 2020.

Verilife will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Stormo said interested patients should call to confirm the exact day the dispensary is set to open. For more information, call 508-538-9070 or email: maoutreach@pharmacannis.com.

Upcoming, dispensary officials will host an informational dinner for medical professionals on June 7 at 6:15 p.m. at the Brew Fish restaurant in Marion. RSVP is required by calling 508-538-9070.

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