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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens In Plattsburgh

Now that medical marijuana is legal in New York, the industry is getting off the ground under strict state regulations and guidelines for dispensing the product. The five companies allowed to grow and distribute it were allowed to open dispensaries beginning this month. Columbia Care’s dispensary in Plattsburgh opened Tuesday.
The medical marijuana dispensary in Plattsburgh is the only one in New York’s North Country.  The next closest is in Albany.

Columbia Care is the authorized provider and has remodeled a building on Route 3,  a main thoroughfare in the community, for its secure clinic.

Columbia Care’s medical marijuana is grown and manufactured in Rochester at the Eastman Kodak Business Park, which distributes the product to dispensaries in Riverhead, Long Island, Manhattan, Rochester and Plattsburgh.  The company also has licenses or operates medical marijuana dispensaries nationally including in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. and Arizona.   CEO Nicholas Vita  expects business to ramp up in Plattsburgh and across the state as patients and physicians understand their options.   “There could be as many as 200 to 400 thousand patients in New York State that could qualify under the existing program. But because this is a medical program and because it’s driven by clinicians and medical providers, the doctors effectively, you always see a very slow ramp. This is consistent with what we’ve seen in every market. Actually in New York City where we opened our first facility we’ve had quite a bit of interest both from physicians and from patients. And we would expect that in the North Country the adoption rate will continue along the same lines.  The first thing we need to do is to really develop a dialog with physicians, with patients and provide transparency and really information so that everybody understands what it is, what we do and how we do it.”

So what happens when a patient comes to the Plattsburgh dispensary? It’s by appointment only and after a registered patient comes through the secure entry door the receptionist will buzz you into a spacious waiting area.  Vita explains what happens next.   “So we’re in the waiting room.  Over here this is the reception area. It’s where we would do the final certification of the patient. And we would do that electronically. We can validate that this is a patient that’s enrolled with the state and in good standing. Once a patient has been cleared the pharmacist tech or the pharmacist would come back into the waiting area and actually bring a patient through this door. And this is the dispensary floor.  Back here is the patient education room where a pharmacist and a patient could actually reach out to the attending physician and have a collaborative open discussion.  And then back here is where we would have the transaction actually take place.”

Smokeable marijuana is prohibited.  Approved forms of medical marijuana include liquid or oil tinctures to be administered orally, under the tongue, or through vaporization and capsules.

Columbia Care Executive Chairman Michael Abbott says he liked hearing a description of their dispensary as a combination of an Apple store and a medical facility.   “Our mission is medical.  It’s very simple. And I think that any stereotypes that may exist will be debunked by data.  I think we can also, at a more superficial level, I think we can also create an environment in our dispensaries that is more approachable, a feeling of great security, accessibility to people who may have never used this product before, that may have a perception that the place that they walk into is perhaps something that they may have seen on television from another state, that may not have the same standards and the same regulations that somewhere like New York has. And so that’s what we try to produce here.”

Columbia Care will open two more dispensaries by the end of the week: one in Rochester and another in Riverhead, Long Island.

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