Cannabis dispensary to open in September

Patients who have a doctor’s recommendation will be able to obtain medicinal cannabis at Peninsula Alternative Health beginning in September, following final state regulated inspection.

The company will open at 400 Snow Hill Road, a 2,400-square-foot building that was formerly an animal hospital. Renovations are under way, said Anthony Darby, CEO, whose business partner is Dr. Mary Pat Hoffman, a doctor of pharmacy.

“If we pass all the checks and balances, we will get our final license,” Hoffman said.

Cannabis won’t be grown at the site, only dispensed. There are 15 licensed growers and 15 licensed processers in Maryland, who will provide the substance to Peninsula Alternative Health.

All patients must be registered on a state data base to verify their identity and receive a recommendation from a doctor before they can become clients. See for information about how to register.

“The patient will go to a physician or a physician’s assistant, a dentist — anybody in the state who can write a written recommendation. That doctor is saying, ‘I am not telling you how, or how much, to use, but I am recommending you go to a licensed dispensary and get cannabis,’” Darby said.

Hoffman explained that because cannabis is still a Schedule I substance, it can’t be prescribed, but recommended.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Schedule I drugs have “a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and-or physical dependence. As the drug schedule changes — Schedule II, Schedule III, etc. — so does the abuse potential. Schedule V drugs represent the least potential for abuse.”

“The doctor’s recommendation says ‘I agree this will give you more benefits than harm’ and that the doctor gives his blessing,” Hoffman said.

At the new Salisbury office, she will guide clients about how to use cannabis and talk to them about dosing and possible interactions with other prescriptions.

Cannabis, she said, has been used to treat illnesses for centuries and aids glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, muscle spasms, anxiety, chronic pain and severe nausea and vomiting. When they legalized its use, Maryland lawmakers added a clause stating it is acceptable for any condition that is chronic, severe and not relieved by current therapy but believed to be eased by cannabis.

It isn’t possible to estimate the cost to clients, Darby said, because it depends on the strain, amount and frequency of use.

“Usually, you start low and go slow as far as the dosing process. Every patient will go through a supply differently. There is not a gold standard for usage. It depends on the person’s metabolism,” Hoffman said.

Darby explained the entire plant has medicinal benefits. Peninsula Alternative Health will sell cannabis in various forms, including oils, tinctures and those applied topically.

Along with treating patients, Darby, whose background is in finance and technology, and Hoffman will inform the community and doctors about cannabis to lessen the stigma often attached.

“Everyone in this industry tries to break the stigma, but in the next three to five years, everybody will know somebody who has used cannabis and had a significant quality of life,” Hoffman said.

“We have met some of the smartest people you can imagine. All of this is a grassroots efforts. This whole industry is just based on a grassroots passion from people who really believe in the power of this medicine and who want to get rid of the stigma,” she said.

Side effects can include mental confusion, dizziness, dry mouth or dry eyes. But it doesn’t “make you stupid” as many believe, she said. In fact, cannabis has a substance that protects brain cells.

“The city of Salisbury has been overwhelmingly supportive of us to bring this project to light. Anywhere there is a lack of education and stigma, there needs to be an awareness. We take that as our responsibility to fight that stigma, to be proactive, so we will have physician outreach to educate medical providers in the area,” Darby said.

The company was formed in 2015 and created to “provide medicine to patients that can benefit from safe access to quality medicinal cannabis,” according to its Website.

In December of 2016, the company was awarded a preliminary Stage 1 license pre-approval. Since then, Darby and Hoffman have been working toward final inspection, expected in late summer or early fall. Six to 10 full-time employees will be hired.

The Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is responsible for developing policies and procedures and for creating regulations to implement programs “that ensure medical cannabis is available to qualifying patients in a safe and effective manner,” according to the Website.

The commission oversees licensing, registration, inspection and testing and provides information to patients, physicians, growers, dispensers, processors, testing laboratories and caregivers.

“Some people are concerned our facility will look like a Cheech and Chong head shop,” Darby said. “It will look like a hybrid between a doctor’s office and a pharmacy. The standards we are setting are high.”


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