(Feb. 22, 2019) A year into the legal medicinal marijuana business, Positive Energy and hi Tide dispensaries have experienced mainly positive feedback from customers and the public since opening in West Ocean City.
Robert Davis, co-owner of hi Tide Dispensary on 12600 Marjan Lane, said he was shocked there wasn’t more outrage.
“I expected there had to be somebody out there with a picket sign ready to go, something right?” Davis asked. “I figured there had to be one, and we haven’t found that person yet.”
Lyndsey Odachowski, co-owner and general manager of Positive Energy on 9939 Jerry Mack Road, said she’s seen nothing but support since opening on Jan. 25, 2018.
“It has been wonderful to see how the local community has jumped on board,” she said.
While the two operators may have opened their doors with some trepidation, Odachowski said providing good information is key as medicinal cannabis becomes accepted in mainstream society.
“The best way to start a conversation is with good information that can only be achieved through education, which everyone here is extremely well educated,” Odachowski said.
Davis added he sees a vicious cycle forming with people on several kinds of prescription medications.
“I think people are just sick of taking all these medicines, and then they end up taking medicines to help the side effects from the other medicines,” he said.
Hi Tide Dispensary opened on April 4, 2018. Davis has been a pharmacist for 25 years, and is licensed in Maryland and Delaware.
“I knew this [cannabis] was a medicine and it did have medical uses, but it has far exceeded my expectations as to how many people it can help,” he said.
Odachowski said it’s gratifying to be able to have a positive impact the lives patients helped by cannabis.
“When people tell you that they got their life back, it is one of the most inspiring moments … especially when they come back, and they ended up deciding on a product you recommended, and it was the perfect product for them,” she said.
Davis added that a big part of the cannabis community is about establishing a dialogue between purveyor and patient, and creating an inviting place for that to happen.
“I didn’t want it to look like a doctor’s office,” Davis said. “I didn’t want it to look a hospital, because nobody likes going to any of those places.”
Odachowski said the medical benefits of cannabis can help address a myriad of conditions, from joint pain to dealing with chemotherapy.
Davis said a patient may need help alleviating knee pain, but they come to find that “they’re starting to sleep through the night,” or finding relief with other issues.
“So it’s helping multiple problems you have as you get older, and even though the main reason they started it wasn’t for that, it ended up solving a lot of other problems that they didn’t anticipate,” Davis said.
Davis, who also serves as hi Tide’s clinical director, said he believes his knowledge of pharmaceuticals helps patients who may be using different types of medication.
“At this place, they have a pharmacist overseeing their care needs, which most do not,” he said.
Prospective patients can get help registering with the state onsite at hi Tide, as well as get their questions answered.
“There are so many dosage forms available that people are actually overwhelmed when they come in, and that’s why we’re here,” Davis said. “We help them understand.”
Hi Tide and Positive Energy dispensaries are the only two dispensaries permitted per state senatorial district, according to Maryland law. District 38 is comprised of Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties.
Odachowski said she sees patients not only from the confines of District 38 constituents, but also anyone that is registered in the state. Both agree the median age of people seeking medical marijuana is more than 40 years old.
“The general acceptance in Maryland has been growing exponentially,” Odachowski said.
To obtain a prescription for medical marijuana, patients must first register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. Online registration is on the commission’s website at mmcc.maryland.gov.
They then make an appointment for certification from a medical practitioner who’s also registered with the state and can determine if the applicant meets the state guidelines.
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, a partner of Holistic Wellness Maryland OC, has a practice in Baltimore, but recently opened a West Ocean City location next to hi Tide Dispensary with dentist Dr. Roman Podolak. Also on staff is Deanna Lunn, a nurse practitioner.
Kwiatkowski said they can provide certificates to prospective cannabis patients, assuming they meet the state’s requirements, which can be determined from the applicants’ medical records.
She added her practice handles a variety of cases, including hospice patients, cancer patients, children who suffer from epilepsy, and veterans with post traumatic stress disorder.
Kwiatkowski said she understands the stigma associated with cannabis, but added she has experienced the benefits herself as a previous breast cancer patient, and “discontinue[d] 14 different medicines.”
Odachowski also stressed the importance of dispelling marijuana’s negative image.
“A lot of people that come in are really afraid of THC because of what they’ve seen in the movies,” Odachowski said.
However, there are regulations in place to ensure the correct amount of cannabis going to the patient for the medical purpose that’s needed. Odachowski added that Vanessa Adams serves as the dispensary’s clinical director, and is a board certified nurse practitioner in Maryland and Delaware.
“Every single product has a metric ID number. That product number traces that finished product all the way back to the seed,” she said. “Everything is extremely well documented and tracked.”
When dealing with the dosage of THC, Odachowski said it’s about finding the right fit.
“THC can go a long way for a lot of patients, it’s just staying within a safe dose to ensure you don’t get overly euphoric,” Odachowski said. “But sometimes a little euphoria is nice, because you can change the channel from suffering to relaxation.” To put it simply, Davis said it’s about doing good for people.
Both dispensaries offer topicals, lotions, oils, tablets, and bath salts. Odachowski said Positive Energy carried 18 different products when the dispensary opened, and now has 180 products.