St. Mary’s cannabis dis­pen­sary hop­ing to dis­pel stigma

First such South­ern Mary­land store to open in Septem­ber

Maryland Independent - - News - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twitter: @JamieACIndyNews

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.

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