Dis­pen­sary news high­lights com­mu­nity con­cerns over med­i­cal cannabis in Dun­dalk

The Dundalk Eagle - - OPINION - By NI­COLE ROD­MAN nrod­man@ches­pub.com

The news caused quite a stir when it hit the Ea­gle Face­book last Wed­nes­day, to the tune of hun­dreds of com­ments, re­ac­tions and shares and thou­sands of views.

A med­i­cal cannabis dis­pen­sary, Charm City Medi­cus, will be com­ing to North Point Boule­vard across from East­point Mall.

First, a cor­rec­tion. I orig­i­nally stated that it would be at the site of the for­mer Mc­Don­alds. It will will not. Rather, it will be next to that site.

Re­ac­tion was swift and var­ied be­tween jokes and ex­pres­sions of con­cern re­gard­ing se­cu­rity and the im­pact such a busi­ness would have on the Dun­dalk area.

I un­der­stand this re­ac­tion, I re­ally do.

I mean, let’s face it. Dun­dalk does tend to get more than our fair share of so­cial ser­vices fa­cil­i­ties, methadone clin­ics and the like.

But this is dif­fer­ent. Let’s look at the is­sue a bit.

First, the ben­e­fits of med­i­cal cannabis have been stud­ied (though not as ex­ten­sively in the past due to its il­le­gal­ity). Med­i­cal cannabis can pro­vide re­lief for is­sues rang­ing from pain to nau­sea to PTSD and other con­di­tions.

There can be some side ef­fects, as with any med­i­ca­tion.

First, it is im­por­tant to note that there have not been any recorded over­dose deaths as­so­ci­ated with cannabis use. It is far safer than many other med­i­ca­tions, es­pe­cially opi­oids.

Cannabis, es­pe­cially the prod­uct con­tain­ing the psy­choac­tive in­gre­di­ent THC (the chem­i­cal that cre­ates the “high”), can im­pair judge­ment and op­er­a­tion of ve­hi­cles and ma­chin­ery.

As with any med­i­ca­tion, pa­tients can re­act in var­i­ous ways. Some pa­tients may ex­pe­ri­ence (gen­er­ally mild, tem­po­rary) ef­fects rang­ing from sleepi­ness, dizzi­ness, re­duced co­or­di­na­tion to anx­i­ety or para­noia.

Se­vere ef­fects are rare and med­i­cal cannabis is con­sid­ered gen­er­ally safe.

When com­pared to the ef­fects of other com­mon­lypre­scribed and even over­the-counter med­i­ca­tions (even com­mon pain re­liev­ers like ac­etaminophen can cause death if used im­prop­erly), med­i­cal cannabis is very safe.

At the dis­pen­sary, the med­i­cal cannabis will not just be of­fered in the flower form, but in oils, tinc­tures, lo­tions and other pro­cessed prod­ucts. Ed­i­bles are not le­gal and will not be sold, though pa­tients can use the cannabis to make their own ed­i­bles for con­sump­tion at home.

Ac­cord­ing to Bryan Hill, pres­i­dent and CEO of Charm City Medi­cus, the dis­pen­sary will en­cour­age pa­tients to take the cannabis in ways other than smok­ing, in­clud­ing va­por­iz­ing oils or cre­at­ing ed­i­bles.

There are also many op­tions for pa­tients to ob­tain med­i­cal cannabis with­out THC (and, thus, no “high”). For ex­am­ple, medic­i­nal cannabis top­i­cal lo­tion can be rubbed onto arthritic joints for pain re­lief.

In ad­di­tion to the med­i­cal con­cerns, read­ers have ex­pressed safety/crime con­cerns re­gard­ing the dis­pen­sary it­self.

The safety mea­sures pro­posed by Hill are listed in our cover story on the is­sue. There are le­git­i­mate con­cerns over the pres­ence of large sums of cash at the busi­ness (since banks will, gen­er­ally, not ser­vice dis­pen­saries since med­i­cal cannabis is still il­le­gally fed­er­ally). How­ever, Hill pointed to sev­eral ap­pli­ca­tions de­vel­oped to al­low for cash­less pay­ments at dis­pen­saries. If these ap­pli­ca­tions work prop­erly, that would seem to re­duce the level of safety con­cern down to that of any phar­macy in the com­mu­nity.

While there are le­git­i­mate con­cerns about med­i­cal cannabis use and its im­pact on the com­mu­nity, I think it is an is­sue which can be looked at log­i­cally and dis­cussed ra­tio­nally (and with a min­i­mum of “stoner/ munchies” jokes).

We will not be see­ing zomb­i­fied med­i­cal cannabis pa­tients stum­bling out of the dis­pen­sary and slid­ing be­hind the wheel of a car to ter­ror­ize an un­sus­pect­ing Dun­dalk.

(The dis­pen­sary DOES NOT ad­min­is­ter med­i­cal cannabis on site and pa­tients are pro­hib­ited by law from con­sum­ing it in pub­lic or driv­ing while un­der the in­flu­ence.)

What we will see is more pa­tients, be­set by chronic con­di­tions that de­press and de­stroy their qual­ity of life, get­ting med­i­ca­tion that can give them the chance to find re­lief.

I think we owe it to those pa­tients — whether can­cer suf­fer­ers, vet­er­ans with PTSD or chil­dren with se­vere seizures — to al­low them ac­cess to that re­lief in their com­mu­nity.

The pro­gram and the busi­ness should — and will — be heav­ily mon­i­tored, but I think it is vi­tal to keep an open mind as we learn to­gether how to nav­i­gate this brand new in­dus­try.

Opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the writer and do not rep­re­sent the opin­ion of The Dun­dalk Ea­gle or Adams Pub­lish­ing Group.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF SONYA YRUEL/DRUG POL­ICY AL­LIANCE

Med­i­cal cannabis buds with po­tency test­ing re­sults are seen on dis­play at a dis­pen­sary.

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