Since the early December launch of statewide medical marijuana dispensaries, the Ijamsville-based Kannavis has been welcoming patrons all the way from Cumberland, the Eastern Shore and southern counties.
Medical Director Dr. Craig Hauser said one of the reasons customers are traveling is because there are only a handful of medical marijuana dispensaries currently open. “I think the other factor is we are offering some high-quality products that people appreciate and are willing to travel for,” he said.
The products, which include elixirs, flowers and tablets, may be smoked or ingested. “We try and offer multiple different methods so everybody can have the experience that they want but as far as what is most common—right now it is pretty evenly split between those that are used to the old-fashioned way of taking cannabis through smoking it versus those that are looking for more of the pill types or the tinctures that go in your mouth and on your tongue,” he said.
Patients also like that Hauser oversees the products to better direct them toward the correct purchase for their ailments. “The patients have really taken to the cannabis shop and I think they have really taken to the medicine as well,” he said.
During the initial opening weeks, some dispensaries ran out of products due to limited supplies and had long wait times. Kannavis Dispensary Manager Jordan Baker said now, more than a month after their opening, the business is running smoothly.
In order to obtain medical marijuana, folks must start off by registering as a patient with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), which opened enrollment in April 2017. The next step is to have a MMCC-registered doctor approve the patient for medical marijuana as a treatment option through written certification. Once obtained, individuals may go to a dispensary to make a purchase, but they will need to show a valid U.S. ID or their MMCC-ID for verification purposes.
“Most people have been really on the ball with going through the process so that when they show up at the cannabis dispensary they are all set to go,” Hauser said. “It’s been pretty rare that somebody came in that didn’t have their medical card all set up.”
The most common conditions Hauser sees patients seeking cannabis treatment for are chronic pain, anxiety, degenerative disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. “There is a large proportion of patients that aren’t getting satisfactory care through their current opioids or other medications so they are looking for something that is going to be safe and effective to help them out,” Hauser said. “A lot of times when they combine these with their other medications they are able to decrease their prescription medications, so the beauty is you eliminate or reduce a lot of the side effects from these other medications.”
While there is a small addictive component, patients cannot overdose unlike alcohol and prescription pills. “All of those have a lethal dose and a risk of (overdose death) whereas cannabis doesn’t so it is very safe,” Hauser said. “It is a natural product so instead of taking all these synthetic medications, we are able to add a medicinal plant into our regimen and heal from a natural substance. I think our society is just really starting to learn how food can dramatically impact our body.”
As an integrative and functional medicine doctor, one of Hauser’s main teaching points is a focus on food. “What you put into your mouth is either healing or hurting your body,” he said. “There is no middle ground. Our next evolution is learning that plants can do the same thing. That’s all cannabis is—it’s just a plant.”
Hauser has seen a wide variety of ages represented among patients from those in their 20s to some in their 90s. The most common is the mid to upper age range.
Ijamsville was chosen as the spot for the dispensary because staff live in the area and wanted a store to serve the local community. “We didn’t want this to be perceived as recreational or just people trying to skirt the system,” Hauser said. “We wanted to help the people that wanted medical cannabis. We knew that in our own community there was a high proportion of people that wanted that. We wanted to give back.”
Located at 3362 Urbana Pike about a mile from I-270, Baker said the dispensary is convenient for folks in the area. “We find that a lot of people in this community are commuters,” he said. “For them to have something right there in their neighborhood is very convenient for them, being commuters.”
The dispensary hosted a weeklong food drive just before the holidays and hopes to do more community-focused events in the future. Hauser also has done a couple of talks at Frederick County Public Libraries’ branches and is open to doing more presentations in the future.