By Seth Daniel
The first medical marijuana dispensary in the Lower Mystic region has opened its doors in Sullivan Square on Broadway, Somerville, and operators of the clinic, Revolutionary Clinics, said last week at an open house they are seeing many new patients and believe people in the area with chronic pain are turning away from the black market to get a medicine that helps them deal with their illnesses.
Last Friday, Revolution – which sees itself as a regional dispensary serving the entire Lower Mystic region – said that it has been open every day since November (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) and the business has been ramping up every week – with an average of 38 new state-approved patients per week.
“The company is growing here and the patients are returning on a regular basis,” said Keith Cooper, CEO of the company, which is based in Colorado. “We are very, very excited about this location and obviously disturbed and concerned about what is being said at the national level. We hope that it will be just posturing and not hurt the patients taking advantage of this incredible plant.”
The open house at the dispensary was a chance for the media and for state legislators, including Somerville Sen. Patricia Jehlen, to see one of the area’s first functioning clinics in progress.
At a small panel discussion afterwards, the topic of the black market for marijuana came up.
Revolutionary Managing Director Meg Sanders said they don’t inquire, but they assume people in the area were getting marijuana somehow before there was a place like Revolutionary that is regulated and legal.
“We don’t ask that, but people who need the medicine were going to get it if they needed it,” she said. “There are a lot of black market operators out there. That’s the last place we would want patients to have to go because its unregulated and you don’t know what’s really in it. All of our products are tested and we know what’s in them.”
The clinic is only for those approved by the state for medical marijuana – though there is a desire to convert to recreational sales if permitted later this year. The system is set up with many security checks, from the parking lot to the entrance to the point of sale and delivery of the product.
After going through the procedures, one can work with a clerk to discuss the products available and options. There is an education area and an area for private consultation.
The clinic dispenses everything from traditional marijuana “flowers” or “buds” to salves, vaping cartridges, tinctures, oils, waxes, cookies, biscuits and chocolates.
The actual “buds” are produced in Massachusetts, and right now Revolutionary has a farm in Fitchburg that is producing two varieties now sold in the clinic.
The many different products, said clerk Sarah-Jaana Nodell, are only a matter of preference. Some people come in with arthritis and only want a salve. Some people have lung problems and cannot smoke buds, so they need a tincture or an edible product.
Others just need very low doses for their ailments, while others need to smoke strong buds to relieve chronic pain.
“The flower is really just the delivery mechanism for the oils,” she said. “The primary element is the concentration of oils and there are other ways to deliver it. If someone comes in with lung disease, the last thing we’ll do is give them something to smoke. I’m not going to give you edibles if you can’t digest things. That’s when a patient might be a better fit for a tincture.
“We have so many people saying they don’t want to get high,” she continued. “You don’t have to. You don’t have to get high. We’re here to help patients find the product that is going to make them feel better in any way we can. Many of our products are non-hallucinogenic so they will not get anyone high.”
However, for others, the hallucinogenic effect is precisely the medicine they need in smoking the flower – and the side effects, such as giggling, can be helpful too.
“We have some strains that make you giggly and happy,” she said. “Some people say they want something that will make them giggle. We can do that. For a lot of people with chronic pain, giggling is an easy thing to do.”
Nodell said she can relate to such pain, as she and many of the product consultants are medical marijuana users who have survived and coped with chronic pain for years.
“I lived with chronic pain and was allergic to most pain medications,” she said. “I was 15 when I discovered medical marijuana and never turned back. Six surgeries later and no morphine for me. Chronic pain is a hard thing. That 1-10 scale gets mixed up and it’s hard when 10 is all the time.”
Bringing the 10 down to a manageable level – whether dealing with cancer, Crohn’s Disease or arthritis – is what Revolutionary said they are all about.
“These products really help and provide relief,” said Sanders. “I have seen so many Crohn’s patients find great relief with these products after so many steroid treatments.”
After one finds the product they need and pays for it, the product is picked up in a secure dispensing area – much like a traditional pharmacy counter. After that, a patient can leave, and they do so with a great deal of security in the parking lot and with a network of cameras to prevent theft or assault.
“We haven’t had an incident since we opened,” said Sanders. “It is as secure or more secure than any bank or jewelry store you might enter…With all the cameras around here, we actually end up helping to solve crimes in our experience. In a store we have in Colorado, the police frequently ask us for footage from our cameras to catch things that happen around us. We are actually solving crimes.”
The clinic is open Monday, Weds., and Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, they are open 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. On Sundays, they are open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
They are located at 67 Broadway in Somerville, just two blocks from Sullivan Square.