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Medical marijuana pharmacies find eager patients with growing pain in Harford County

Julie Donovan and Beth MacLeod will do something they never expected in their "wildest dreams": opening a medical marijuana pharmacy in Harford County.

The Chestertown Sisters have been raising their children and caring for their careers for the past 30 years. Donovan, a former lawyer, is a computer consultant for a law firm software development firm, while MacLeod, a high school biology teacher, is a marketer for a wellness company.

For most of their lives Donovan, 59, and MacLeod, 56, admit that they knew little about marijuana, also known as cannabis. But when a friend suffering from insomnia and unable to eat due to Lyme disease relieved his symptoms after taking the drug, they began to wonder if there was more.

She and her sister "are in our fifties and grew up in the Nancy Reagan era of" Say No to Drugs, "says Donovan. "Then we started to see with our own eyes and see how certain patients had relief."

This fall, the sisters in the street ̵

1; the third cannabis pharmacy in Harford County – open four green fields. Rise Joppa, the district's first pharmacy, opened in April and True Wellness in Aberdeen was due to open in August.

Supporters of the district pharmacies say they are providing patients with safe and natural ways to relieve pain and symptoms particularly important as the heroin and opioid epidemic continues to increase.

"In the end, we help people feel better, people who are in pain," says Andy Grossman, head of the Green Thumb Industries (GTI) capital market, who manages RISE Joppa. "This drug helps to comfort them and help them improve the quality of life they currently have."

Nevertheless, the medical cannabis industry is not immune to growing pains. In Maryland, there were concerns about diversity in the market as well as larger companies that had licenses for more than one pharmacy. In addition, the federal government has given its prosecutors more power to enforce laws in states where medical marijuana is legal.

And doctors' reaction has been mixed.

"You have some who believe that this is not medicine and it should be handled more like any other treatment through a process similar to the US Food and Drug Administration," says Gene M. Ransom III, CEO of MedChi Maryland State Medical Society. "Then you have doctors who say," Look, that's a lot less harmful than other things that people take, and if it works or keeps them from doing things that are harmful then it should we might think about spending it. "

" Not like Cheech and Chong

Doing more than just doing it on a rainy Saturday morning Zen customers walked through the front doors of RISE Joppa to their doctor's recommendation Upon arrival, everyone will check in at the reception desk, where staff will confirm that they are registered with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, and then submit a written confirmation, essentially a recommendation, from a healthcare provider who will assist them

Some clients were first-time visitors, while others, such as Ron Coyner, visited the pharmacy regularly since opening.

Coyner, a 46-year-old former communications tower tech from Joppa, broke all his ribs and broke himself in five places the skull and broke a bone in the neck in 2005, when a piece of steel frame fell and landed on him.Most of his injuries healed, but his e ribs never returned to their condition before the injury.

"I hurt every single minute of the day," says Coyner. I hurt, it hurts, I sneeze, it hurts, I have not been lying on my stomach since 2005. "

Over the years, pain therapists have given him an increasing dose of the opioids oxycodone and morphine, and finally fentanyl Transdermal patches added to the mixture, he says [19659002] The purchase and subsequent smoking of cannabis flowers helped Coyner use opioids for pain relief. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that prescriptions for opioids decrease as states adopt a medical cannabis law.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana use has both short-term and long-term effects. When a person smokes the drug, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the most important psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – passes from the lungs into the bloodstream and eventually into the brain and other organs, causing mood swings, disturbed body movement, memory problems, difficulty solving problems Long-term marijuana use may interfere with brain development, but physical effects such as respiratory problems, increased heart rate and vomiting may occur

While many users say the drug is safe, cannabis is being researched scientifically (19659002) However, in June, the FDA approved an oral cannabidiol (CBD) solution called Epidiolex for the treatment of two rare forms of epilepsy in patients from the age of 2 years, the "high" that comes from THC.

Coyner says he appreciates the way the industry is regulated.

"I know what's in it now," he says. "One wonders what we have smoked all these years."

On a recent visit, Coyner bought a flower called Northern Lights. Twenty percent of the strain is THC. ROSE Joppa offers a THC-infused lemonade and tea "elixir" customers can drink, peppermint-flavored tablets, transdermal patches THC can be absorbed through. ROSE Joppa Dispensary Employees to say that the skin and.

Customers have no the powdered tinctures customers can add to the water.

"It's not like Cheech and Chong [where] I have to get my bowl out or I have to get a joint out and smoke it," says Grossman. You can use a transdermal patch, you can use creams, you can use tinctures, you can use pills. And all these forms do not necessarily have to be high. You can, but you do not have to. "

Donovan and MacLeod, along with Kal Shah, a resident of Ellicott City and owner of True Wellness, say they also plan to make a number of products in their pharmacies Every product is required in Maryland as required by law, says Shah.

Growing Pain

Overall, Grossman says the state's medical cannabis market has opened smoothly in December. The Maryland medicinal cannabis Commission approved 102 dispensaries, and more than 700 vendors, including doctors, nurses and dentists, have participated in the program; a dozen of these vendors are based in Harford County

But technical and legal issues, as well as a broad-based provider Buy-in have led to challenges.

Some legislators have c The lack of diversity in the market has been dispelled, and so ver In April, the House of Representatives and the Maryland Senate passed a law that would issue seven new cannabis cultivation and 13 new cannabis processing licenses. It also calls for a procurement process that takes into account the breed and barriers to starting a cannabis pharmacy.

While the state intended that a business should only own one business, a controversial reading of the regulations has allowed larger companies, such as the GTI, to gain control of licenses to more than one pharmacy. GTI controls five licenses: In addition to RISE Joppa, they plan to open a pharmacy in Abingdon at an indefinite time. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has been thinking about how to tackle the problem.

In July, the system that automatically tracked medical cannabis use for pharmacies and consumers in real time was temporarily shut down. Dispensaries had to use a time-consuming, multi-stage process to ensure that consumers remain under their legal allocations.

And in January, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would give federal prosecutors more freedom to enforce marijuana laws in states legalizing the substance. "This worries the local doctors," says Ransom.

"Honestly, I think that many physicians who considered getting the referral license decided not to, or people who had the license, decided not to do anything," he says.

Doctors also have concerns about the cannabis gene, says Ransom. If a commission-registered doctor does not write a certain amount on the patient's recommendation, he will default to the maximum amount allowed by law, he says.

"You should really write it for the amount that you think will solve the problem, which can be really tricky for the doctor because there is no real guidance or science on the subject, "says Ransom.

That's why education is so important, says Donovan. Donovan and MacLeod, as well as Shah, say that they plan to have seminars on the benefits of medicinal cannabis when they are opened, and they will also reach doctors in the community about the benefits of the drug.

"If there is a driving force for Beth and me, it's medicine," says Donovan ys. "This is an alternative to help with symptoms and to help someone who has a chronic illness."

She added, "I would not impose it on anyone who has strong beliefs, but I could not stress enough to be open-minded, see what some people say about how people who passed through them use it and how they found life on the other side. "

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