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Medical Marijuana Dispensary to Open in Germantown

July 7, 2017

Bloom Medicinals is planning to open the first medical marijuana dispensary in the Germantown area later this fall.

   On December 9, 2016, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission announced the names of 102 pre-approved dispensaries. Among those pre-approved was MaryLeaf LLC, which will be doing business as Bloom Medicinals and is planning to open a dispensary in the Middlebrook Square shopping center at the corner of Middlebrook Road and Frederick Road in the October or November of 2017.

   MaryLeaf LLC was one of 16 medical cannabis companies which have been approved to operate in Montgomery County. State regulations require that no more than two dispensaries can be located in each of the state's 47 legislative districts. MaryLeaf LCC was approved to operate in the 39th District, also approved to operate in the 39th district was a company called MI Dispensary. Only one company was approved to operate a dispensary in District 15, Germantown’s other legislative district. That company is Cannabus LLC. There is no word on locations for either MI Dispensary or Cannabus LCC.

   The Maryland Cannabis Commission has issued 15 pre-approvals to companies to grow medical cannabis, 15 pre-approvals to companies to process medical cannabis, and 102 pre-approvals to companies to dispense medical cannabis. No actual final licenses to grow, process or dispense medical cannabis have been issued.

   While the location will sell marijuana, it is not going to be a pot shop where anyone can go in and purchase weed. According to a December 12, 2016, Baltimore BizJournal article, “Costs associated with opening a dispensary in Maryland include a $4,000 stage-two application fee, an $80,000 licensing fee — which must be renewed every other year — and an estimated $500,000 for initial build-out and start-up costs for businesses.” 

   According to Matt Schneider, Director of Marketing for Bloom Medicinals, the dispensary is more like a pharmacy. “All patients and future patients must go through the state-ordered process to obtain cannabis from our location.”

   To qualify as a legal purchaser of medical marijuana in Maryland, you must have a valid US issued photo ID and a written certification from a licensed, certified marijuana physician. Not all physicians are licensed to dispense medical marijuana.

   Dispensary patients must register to become a patient with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Cannabis Commission. Patients must also have a qualifying condition to receive medicinal marijuana. The conditions are as follows: Cachexia, anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain. Finally, in order to purchase items in dispensary a patient mush show identification.

   “Severe and chronic pain qualifies prospective patients for a Maryland medical cannabis card,” said Schneider. “Pain is seen in so many different types of conditions and accounts for two-thirds of medical cannabis patient in states with medical cannabis programs.”

   According to Schneider, there was no set process of approval for location at the county level. “We are treated like a pharmacy and permitted in those zones where pharmacies are permitted. Of course, there are setback laws mandated by the state that we must follow. A dispensary shall not be within 500 feet of a school, church, park/playground or public library. In addition, a dispensary cannot be within 500 feet of a substance abuse treatment center.”

   “We were excited to hear the news from the commission [back in December],” said Nicole van Rensburg, a partner in Maryleaf LLC, the company behind the Bloom Medicinals brand. “We look forward to providing high-quality medical cannabis to our patients.”

   Van Rensburg, who will co-own the Maryland dispensary with her brother, William Hollander, said they spent six months tirelessly working on their application, and waited 15 months for the application to be approved. This rigorous process included Maryland regulators vetting their business to ensure reputability.

   “The process was quite rigorous,” said Schneider. “Out of 811 applicants applying for a medical cannabis dispensary license, only 102 were selected for pre-approval.”

   Schneider said the company submitted detailed plans to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission on a number of aspects of the company’s plan to conduct business including, inventory control, packaging and labeling, safe dispensing procedures, security of the facility, standard operating procedures, record keeping, and compliance.  “In addition, we were subject to an extremely thorough background check,” said Schneider.

   “As soon as we heard the news of the approval, we went straight to work,” said van Rensburg.

   With 21 years in the healthcare field, van Rensburg plans to bring her expertise in physician education, quality assurance, and patient interactions to the Montgomery County dispensary.

   “It’s important to us that we treat the whole patient,” said van Rensburg. “Not only their wants and needs, but to be able to advise on alternatives, and educate them on what strains are best.”

  This isn’t van Rensburg’s first rodeo. She and her brother co-own Midwest Compassion Center, a Chicago-area medical cannabis dispensary that just celebrated one year in operation.

  Being one of the first dispensaries to open in Maryland comes with a few perks, but with the perks comes one significant disadvantage. The brother-sister duo must now wait for growers and processors to produce medical cannabis.

   Currently, Bloom Medicinals, like all 102 approved companies, have received Stage One approval. “We are awaiting approval for stage two which is contingent on completion of construction, inspection of the facility, and approval by the commission,” said Schneider. “We anticipate being awarded Stage Two approval by the fall of 2017. We will then officially start serving patients.”

   Products they will sell come in a variety of forms, including vapors, the traditional plant version, and concentrates, which are intended to be mixed with foods or drinks.

   Bloom Medicinals will carry products including different strains of marijuana, according to Schneider.  “We carry a variety of vehicles for our patients’ choice. Our products come in the form of flower, extract, oils and pens and cartridges. We also have the necessary accessories, such as pipes and papers.”

   Another service which Maryland’s Medical Cannabis legislation allows and Bloom will offer is the delivery items directly to patient homes. Maryland law permits products to be delivered to a patient outside of a dispensary, to their home or place of business.

   As with any pharmacy containing and legally dispensing drugs a certain amount of security must be required. Due to the illicit nature of marijuana as a street drug, the new dispensary will have additional security measures installed, said Schneider.

   “Our security structure will include but is not limited to, cameras with infrared technology – dome lenses that incorporate a 360-degree view of the room and hard drives that can store large files of footage. As well as, surveillance cameras that run 24/7 and an alarm system that is linked to the police department.

   He said that the location will also have a security guard always on duty during operating hours and a vault for storing the various strains of marijuana. He also said that location would have a controlled access door and motion detectors.

   While Bloom didn’t have to get any sort of special permit or approval from the Montgomery County Police Department for the new location, however, Schneider said the company intends to the local police force to the dispensary for a private tour prior to opening.

   Maryland’s program has experienced a series of delays since legalizing medical cannabis back in 2013 and has received national attention for being one of the slowest roll-outs yet. On Monday, April 10, 2017, patients and caregivers in Maryland were finally able to sign up for medical cannabis licenses through the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

   Van Rensburg says she understands the necessity behind the exhaustive development of the program, as it now has the potential to become one of the highest functioning medical cannabis programs yet.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission estimates that medical marijuana will be available to patients from licensed dispensaries in mid-to-late Summer of this year. An announcement will be made by the MMCC when it is available to the public. However patients and caregivers are encouraged to start the registration process now.

 

Captions:

Top: The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission estimates that medical marijuana will be available to patients from licensed dispensaries in mid-to-late Summer of this year.

Next: The location of the new Bloom Medicinals, a medical marijuana dispensary in the Middlebrook Square shopping center strip mall at the corner of Middlebrook Road and Frederick Road in Germantown. It is set to open later this Fall.

Next: Bloom Medicinals logo.

Next: Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission approved 102 companies to dispense medical marijuana in Maryland, 16 of which are in Montgomery County.

 

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