St. Mary’s cannabis dispensary hoping to dispel stigma
First such Southern Maryland store to open in September
Medical marijuana is coming to Southern Maryland, and a company opening a dispensary in St. Mary’s County this fall wants to dispel some of the stereotypes around its use.
Southern Maryland Relief is expecting to open its doors this September at the Morgan Center in Mechanicsville, said co-owner Peggy Danielson.
The store will offer medical marijuana to patients with a valid, written certification in smoking, vaping, ointment and tincture form, said Candace Junkin, the business’ education outreach director.
Junkin spoke at the Potomac Branch Library in Indian Head on Monday night, part of an informational tour to speak with Southern Maryland residents about the upcoming dispensary. About a dozen people were in attendance.
“Community outreach and education is so important,” Junkin said. “For the longest time, there’s been this stigma about cannabis … that it was only the lazy stoner moms that used it. People think dispensaries coming to Maryland are going to be selling joints on the corner, and I really want them to know that people from all walks of life use this medicine, and the regulations are so lengthy, there are so many regulations we have to follow, security is extremely tight. We want the community to know that we’re trying to promote a positive outlook on this medicine.”
In 2013, then-governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation establishing the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, which regulates growing, processing and dispensing of medical marijuana, according to its website.
In order to purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary, patients with a qualifying condition must register with the commission and obtain a valid, written certification from a medical provider who is also registered with the commission. Once the certification is obtained, patients may choose to purchase a patient ID card, although this is not necessary.
The certification or ID card can then be presented to the dispensary. A qualifying patient can possess no more than 120 grams, or approximately 4 ounces, at one time unless the provider has made a special determination that the patient needs more, according to the commission.
Junkin said she has been an advocate for legalized marijuana for more than 10 years, and has used it to treat a number of congenital health issues, including paraplegic migraine headaches (migraines which cause paralysis), trigeminal neuralgia (a painful, shock sensation in the facial nerves), arthritis, and underdeveloped sweat and thyroid glands.
“I’m controlling it 100 percent,” Junkin said.
Junkin first became involved with the effort to legalize medical marijuana after seeing how it helped her father, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
“Getting into this fight was really because of my father, and how cannabis really helped him manage his Parkinson’s,” Junkin said.
Junkin said she became involved with Southern Maryland Relief because she felt the owners, Danielson and Charlie Mattingly, really cared about patients.
“When I met them, I knew right away that these people had very personal reasons to go into this business, and they really care about the patients,” Junkin said. “It’s not about the money, it’s about helping people.”
The cannabis dispensed through Southern Maryland Relief is obtained through Forward Grow, a licensed medical marijuana grower in Anne Arundel County.
Danielson said she is a lifelong resident of Southern Maryland and is looking to serve the community.
“Everything we’ve done has been local,” Danielson said. “Whenever possible, we’ve utilized local businesses and hired local people.”
Additional informational talks are planned for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 14, at the Charlotte Hall library and at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 24, at the Leonardtown library.
Junkin said she looks forward to the day the dispensary opens its doors.
“This is medicine we’re talking about. We’re not catering to the stoner culture, although there’s nothing wrong with stoner culture, we’re not catering to that, this is about medicine and helping sick people,” Junkin said.