Medical marijuana dispensary opening in Smyrna

SMYRNA – Columbia Care is set to become the second medical marijuana operator in Delaware when it officially opens the Compassion Center in Smyrna — the first in Kent County — to qualifying patients on Friday.

The medical marijuana dispensary is located at 200 South DuPont Boulevard in Smyrna and will be the first in the state to offer dose-metered pharmaceutical-quality cannabis-based medicines.

“Opening our first dispensary in Delaware marks our expansion into yet another highly-regulated medical cannabis program,” said Nicholas Vita, CEO of New York-based Columbia Care. “We are proud to further expand access to our industry-leading pharmaceutical-quality cannabis-based medicines to patients in need of consistent and reliable products.”

There will be a ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony for the business at Columbia Care’s Compassion Center in Smyrna at 11 this morning.
Mr. Vita said Columbia Care is the nation’s largest and most experienced medical cannabis company. The opening of the Smyrna facility was delayed for half a year because of zoning, construction and permitting holdups.

Columbia Care, which operates dispensaries in seven other states, won a contract in late 2016 to serve Kent County, which is the only county in Delaware that currently does not have a “compassionate care” facility.

First State Compassion Centers operates the other two medical marijuana dispensaries in Wilmington and Lewes.

Smyrna’s cannabis dispensary has been designed by Columbia Care with patient access, comfort and safety in mind.

Mr. Vita said the dispensary will be staffed by a team trained to provide the highest level of professionalism, compassion, confidentiality, security and respect for patients and their conditions.

“In addition to setting the standard in the industry by producing the highest-quality cannabis-based medicines, we are committed to providing a superior patient experience,” said Mr. Vita. “We have conducted more than 750,000 successful patient interactions, during which dedicated professionals at dispensary locations across the U.S. spend one-on-one time with patients to understand their needs and provide them with transformational cannabis-based medicines.”

The Columbia Care dispensary in Smyrna will provide a comprehensive portfolio of cured leaf products from numerous strains scientifically selected and carefully grown by its team of horticulture experts.

These products will be offered alongside Columbia Care’s core unique dose-metered pharmaceutical-quality offerings, which will be expanded upon over the coming months.

These pharmaceutical-quality offerings include tinctures, vaporization oils and oral capsules in three CBD to THC ratios; high CBD, high THC and equal CBD to THC.

Columbia Care products begin with a cultivation process that takes place in the company’s controlled-environment agricultural production facility in Milford.

The manufacturing and refinement processes take place in highly controlled labs with trained chemists who follow strict quality control guidelines to ensure product safety and consistency.

All products undergo independent batch testing for a variety of measures to ensure the highest levels of purity.

As of January 2017, there were 2,602 active medical marijuana cards held by Delawareans.

Delaware’s medical marijuana program, created in 2011 by the General Assembly, enables patients to legally possess up to 6 ounces of marijuana and to purchase up to 3 ounces every 14 days.

Medical marijuana is not covered by health insurance.

People with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and chronic seizures can use medical marijuana, but anyone can petition to add new conditions to the list.

Gov. John Carney said he supports medical marijuana but offered few details on whether he supports the legalization of cannabis for recreational use, although he said at a debate in October 2016 he was concerned about its reputation as a gateway drug.

“Delaware decriminalized possession of marijuana, and I supported that move,” Gov. Carney said in a statement. “I also believe that medical marijuana should be available for Delawareans in need.

“We should continue to wait and see how Delaware’s decriminalization law continues to be implemented, and monitor progress in other states, before taking any additional steps.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Vita said he is looking forward to opening his company’s new dispensary center in Kent County on Friday.

“We are working with local communities and stakeholders to move forward as quickly as possible and begin serving patients in Delaware with respect, professionalism and enthusiasm,” he said. “We look forward to offering patients a natural treatment option through our portfolio of medical marijuana-derived products that are safe, consistent and manufactured to Columbia Care’s stringent quality standards.”

Mr. Vita said he became interested in medical marijuana when his mother was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. He said that using cannabis oil on her aching joints greatly increased her quality of life.

“At the end of the day, there are so many drugs on the market that are based on harmful and heavily addicting chemicals — take a look at some of the commentary on opioids recently — cannabis, on the other hand, is a natural botanical,” Mr. Vita said.

“If grown safely, and in a controlled and compliant ecosystem, consistency in quality of the product can be guaranteed while ensuring safety for the community. Like any medicine, this should be manufactured and made available to suffering patients in a safe and measured manner that benefits a community.”

Accessing medical marijuana

To access state-licensed medical marijuana Compassion Centers in Delaware, a Delaware licensed physician with a bona fide medical relationship with the patient must certify that the patient has a qualifying condition, and the patient must complete and submit a patient application to the Division of Public Health Medical Marijuana Program.

Patients with a valid medical marijuana card issued by the Medical Marijuana Program are encouraged to schedule an appointment with Columbia Care from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Individuals can also visit the Columbia Care website for scheduling and additional information at http://www.col-carede.com/.

For more information on the Delaware Medical Marijuana Program, including information on how to apply, interested people should visit http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/hsp/medmarhome.html.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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