Slated to open either by the end of March or the beginning of April, Hi-Tide in West Ocean City is the region’s newest medical cannabis dispensary.
Created to provide an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs and to better patients’ quality of life, Hi-Tide’s clinical director and part owner Bob Davis says he saw the wave of medical cannabis coming to the U.S. years ago. A practicing pharmacist for 25 years, Davis wanted to help bring that wave to Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“People want a choice,” he said. “They want an alternative to pharmaceuticals.”
Each state senate district in Maryland is allowed two medical cannabis dispensaries; Positive Energy, another dispensary in West Ocean City, opened in January. Now that Hi-Tide has been granted its full operating license by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), District 38’s dispensary allotment is full.
While Davis comes from the world of pharmacy, and the dispensary is a pharmacy of sorts, Hi-Tide’s atmosphere is not one of a sterile medical facility. When a patient walks through the doors, they’re greeted by light blue walls, hardwood floors reminiscent of the Ocean City Boardwalk, and Hi-Tide merch for sale ranging from sweatshirts to lighters.
Only when one notices the patient registration window and the door to the service area — “Access for Qualified Patients or Caregivers Only,” the sign says — are they reminded that they’re in a medical facility and not a beach-side gift shop.
How it Works
Obtaining medical cannabis in Maryland is a three-step process. First, a patient or caregiver must go online to register with MMCC. And, it should be noted that potential patients should get registered quickly — recently the process has been slowed due to the overwhelming amount of people trying to register, and the Commission is about a month behind. Hospice patients have priority.
After registering, patients will be seen by a MMCC-certified physician or medical practitioner. Then, if the patient receives certification to obtain medical cannabis, they can go to a Maryland licensed dispensary like Hi-Tide to learn more and receive help in selecting the strain and variety of cannabis that will help treat their condition.
The product comes in different forms, including flower (or bud), vaporization pens, tablets, tinctures, concentrates and oils. The prescriptions are dose-to-effect, which means patients only need a small supply initially and will immediately see what the outcome is.
“I don’t have to sell them a 90-day supply of a product, like back in pharmaceuticals,” Davis said. “They can buy a gram or two grams of a product, try it for two or three days, see if it’s going in the direction that we’re trying to accomplish and if it isn’t, we just change course that quickly.”
He also noted that cannabis does not decrease a person’s breathing or heart rate and does not have a lethal dose the way most pharmaceuticals do. “That’s a great aspect of being able to utilize this for patients,” he said.
Community Involvement and Support
So far the dispensary has received only positive feedback from the community. Even when the building was still under construction, Davis said, about eight people a day were knocking on the front door to come in and see what it’s all about.
“I’ve had them walk in while the guys are up on scaffolding,” he said. “They want to have an option, an alternative. They can’t wait to get in here.”
Back in December, Hi-Tide held an event at Mother’s Cantina to educate the public about the upcoming business and about medical cannabis in general. Davis wanted to keep the event small, but soon after publicizing the event on Facebook, over 500 people expressed interest. Over 100 ended up attending, mostly older folks who were curious about how medical cannabis could benefit them.
“There were probably five to seven people that were under the age of 40, everybody else was 45, 55, 65, 75 — wheelchairs in the snow, in Ocean City, in the wintertime,” he said. “If these people are coming out to learn more about this in those conditions, that tells you just how powerful it is.”