Island cannabis operations underway

Cultivation, distribution, edibles, and town agreements.

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Cannabis cultivation at Patient Centric, the Island’s only approved medical marijuana dispensary, is on track to begin by early December.

“Part of that is not in our control,” dispensary CEO Geoff Rose told The Times, who originally thought they’d be growing this fall. “The Department of Public Health (DPH) has to do an on-sight inspection, and provide an approval to grow. We believe that’ll happen in November.”

After approvals, Patient Centric is turned over to the DPH, and tours of the space, like the one offered to me last week, are off limits.

“It becomes a limited access facility,” Rose said. “It’s a highly regulated environment, and it won’t be open to the general public. Similar to the dispensary. Once it’s approved, it’ll only be accessible to those who have a marijuana card issued by the DPH.”

And a quick side note for those whoe are interested — the DPH regulates the medical marijuana industry, while the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) regulates the recreational industry.  On Dec. 31, 2018, the CCC is mandated to take over the medical industry, alleviating the DPH of its role. This shouldn’t change any rules, regulations, or requirements — it’s just a shift in oversight worth noting.

Patient Centric’s cultivation and processing site is located at 90 Doctor Fisher Road in West Tisbury. It’s a 7,200 square foot building of which Patient Centric occupies 5,400 square feet. On the first floor, there’s a laboratory where Patient Centric will test products as required by state law. They’ve partnered with Penobscot Analytics, a Maine-based testing facility. State law requires all marijuana products are lab tested before distribution. Next to the lab, there’s a Marijuana-Infused Product (MIP) room, where edibles and cannabis concentrates will be produced. And next to that, there’s office space and video surveillance equipment.

Cultivation and processing is on the second floor. There will be a separate “bedroom” or vegetation room, where plants are started. Then, there’s a “flower room,” where plants bloom in their adult life. There are processing rooms, dry rooms, and packaging rooms.

“The whole second floor is a combination of cultivating and processing,” Rose said.

The dispensary site is located in a big cabin-like building on 510 State Road in West Tisbury.

“It’s a great location,” Rose said. “It’s a really good representative facility for the community.”

Patient Centric will occupy half of the building, about 700 square feet, according to Rose.

“Envision coming in through a secure door and being buzzed in a vestibule where someone will check IDs and log you into the system,” Rose said. “Then, you’re buzzed to an open area that has a small waiting room. There will be a long counter, think of what you see in a pharmacy, where you can come up and be met and served by an individual.”

There’s also a patient education room for visitors who want to consult.

Patient Centric has two full-time employees. Rose, and Alexis Anaganos, the cultivation manager. Once the cultivation and dispensary are up and running, Rose anticipates needing another four or so full time employees.

“The dispensary requires at least two individuals,” Rose said. “One who would be the dispensary agent serving patients, and the other who would be logging them in to the statewide system in order to enter the dispensary.”

Rose thinks those positions will be open early next year.

Both the cultivation room and MIP room will need one full-time person. Rose asked Kyleen Keenan, owner of Not Your Sugar Mamas, to help develop MIP recipes and oversee production. Keenan is known for her organic, plant-based, gluten and dairy free foods.

“I really believe in plant-based medicine,” Keenan said. “I want to see it as a first stop for people before they ingest pharmaceuticals that can cause chronic inflammation and disease.”

She said she’ll make fudge brownies, cookies, granola bars, gummies, savory snacks and crackers, all of which will be cooked with pure healthy fats such as coconut oil, butter, cao cao, flax seed, chia seed, and nut butters.

“All the infused products out there are full of sugar and dairy,” Keenan said. “When you’re trying to beat cancer, it’s not as beneficial to consume that way.”

She’s got the recipes down, but is still learning about cannabis and how to cook with hybrids of THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, and CBD is the non psychoactive cannabinoid. She’s also navigating the different strains of pot, like sativa and indica.

“Indica has properties that are more relaxing and zoning out,” Keenan said, “Whereas sativas are more creative and uplifting.”

She’ll make blends and hybrids to start, and then really focus on customer demand. There are 166 registered medical marijuana patients in Dukes County. Keenan is keeping this venture completely separate from Not Your Sugar Mamas.

“I think it’ll be manageable,” she said. “I’ll be cooking in large batches, and things like chocolate have a long shelf life.

“It’s exciting. I really don’t know where it’s going to go. It feels like I’m learning all about a new superfood.”

I asked Rose how many plants they’ll grow.

“I’d have to do the math,” he said as he thought aloud. “About 600. And I’ll tell you that’s small in relative terms to other cultivation facilities.”

Once the plants are harvested, Rose said he’ll need another three to four part-time employees for trimming. “Interested?” he joked.

Deal reached with town

Geoff Rose and the town of West Tisbury have finalized their host-community agreement, which is another state law that requires a Registered Marijuana Dispensary (RMD) to work closely with the municipality in which they operate.   

Here are some points worth noting in the host-community agreement:

  • Community impact fee: Patient Centric will pay the town an annual fee to mitigate any unforeseeable costs to the town and its resources, such as road services, law enforcement, fire protection, inspectional services, permitting services, and public health services. For 2018, the community impact fee is $5,000. It must be paid before Dec. 31 of 2018 and each subsequent calendar year. Town selectmen can review and change the community impact fee each year, and must notify Patient Centric by Feb. 1. The community impact fee should not exceed 3 percent of Patient Centric’s annual gross sales.
  • Taxes: Patient Centric cannot request tax credits or subsidies from the town.
  • Term: The host community agreement terminates five years after the execution date, July 25, 2018. The town can terminate this agreement earlier with cause.
  • Diversion plan: Patient Centric will work with the town’s Police Department to implement a plan that trains RMD employees to be aware of, observe, and report unusual behavior from visitors or fellow employees. They will also have rigorous patient identification and verification procedure through the DPH or CCC. They will also utilize seed to sale tracking software to closely track inventory at the RMD.
  • On-site consumption: It’s not allowed.

“There was legal help on both sides because this is the first time either of us — Patient Centric and the town — have ever done it,” Cynthia Mitchell chair of the West Tisbury board of selectmen told The Times. “In the end, we came to an agreement after a process that was generally quite open and collaborative. We certainly didn’t feel any resistance from Patient Centric to enter in to such an agreement. On our part, we wanted to be fair. While many of the agreements across the Commonwealth are asking for a lot more money [from the RMD], we wanted to tread carefully because Patient Centric is a new business. We wanted to be fair but mindful of our obligation to monitor a new business on behalf of the town.”

There’s still just one full-time on-Island physician who can prescribe patients with a Medical Marijuana Card. Terry Kriedman, an OBGYN affiliated with the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, can certify certain qualifying patients. Rabbi Dr. Yosef Glassman can also certify patients, but he splits his time between here, New York City, and Israel.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. It all sounds so medical when the only prescribing physician on the island is “a lady’s doctor”. The whole world is going to pot.

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