Marlborough Senior Center hosts forum on medical and recreational marijuana use

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Garden Remedies Marlborough now officially open for adult use cannabis sales

By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer

Marlborough seniors visit the Garden Remedies Inc. facility on June 3.
Photo/Bonnie Adams

Marlborough – In anticipation of the opening of Garden Remedies, Inc., the first cannabis dispensary to open in the city, more than 50 senior citizens attended a presentation on May 31 at the Marlborough Senior Center given by Julia Wentworth, the company’s director of retail operations. Then on, June 3, several seniors took advantage of an opportunity provided by the Senior Center to visit the new dispensary at its 416 Boston Post Road East (Route 20) location to learn more prior to its official grand opening June 9.

During the May 31 event, Wentworth covered the basics of the plant, the oils, dosing, safety and training as well as the differences between medical and recreational adult-use.

No one in the crowd expressed disapproval but several were concerned about security, drugs being consumed in the plaza parking lot and possible traffic congestion.

Elaine, a Marlborough senior, wished not to give her last name but said she came to the presentation out of curiosity “because it’s someone’s choice,” she said.  “It’s better to have an official place to go than to get it off the street where you won’t know what could be in it.”  Her sentiment was echoed by many in the audience.

Wentworth explained the various delivery methods: edibles, flower (rolled into smoke form), inhaling or vaping and absorption through the skin via their line of spa products including lotions and bath salts.

The most asked question involved the process of obtaining a medical license for cannabis.  Wentworth explained that virtually no physicians can prescribe cannabis if they are involved with a hospital or organization that receives federal funding given that cannabis is not legal at the federal level. This means that doctors affiliated with hospitals including UMASS/Memorial Healthcare cannot prescribe or issue a license. She said Canna Care Docs with locations in Massachusetts including Waltham and Worcester, has doctors who issue medical use cannabis licenses.  According to their website, “The Canna Care Docs team is comprised of physicians, licensed healthcare practitioners and support staff who all share the goal of helping patients along their medical cannabis journey. Since 2013, we have been providing high quality medical cannabis education and certification to thousands of patients.”

Wentworth explained the approximate cost associated with obtaining the medical license from Canna Care Docs.

“It averages $200 per year for the license fee and doctor’s appointment and then patients pay to have it renewed annually,” she said.

With regard to the question of how Garden Remedies’ staff are trained, Wentworth explained that the company has a large cultivation facility in Fitchburg and it is tested two and three times.  Staff spends a day at the facility.

“All of my staff are trained to be able to guide consumers, answer and ask questions and think responsibly when it comes to dosing and helping people,” Wentworth said.

Several seniors in the audience had questions about traffic, parking and security.

“The City has been extremely helpful in working with us,” Wentworth said. She said Garden Remedies has hired 18 staff for the Marlborough dispensary and 86 percent live in Marlborough.

Marlborough Police Chief David Giorgi reviewed and provided input on Garden Remedies’ plan before it was approved by the City Council. The special permit states that the dispensary will have tight security including, 24-hour video surveillance cameras and security personnel inside checking customer identification.  Garden Remedies will pay for a city police detail for the first 60 days of operation unless the police chief finds the detail isn’t necessary at certain times of day. At the end of 60 days, the chief will decide if police detail needs to continue.

During the June 3 outing, the seniors in attendance were insistent they had no interest in recreational marijuana but were open-minded when it came to medical use.

Phyllis Avricchio noted that she was hopeful it would help her better manage her pain.

“I have [multiple sclerosis] and chronic arthritis head to toe,” she said. “I just need something to help me feel better, improve my quality of life.”

While some seniors acknowledged that it would be a rather unusual choice, several, like Rita Barnett, encouraged them to consider it.

She currently has a license to obtain marijuana for medical use and utilizes the Garden Remedies’ Newton location.

“I only started in January but now I am off several medications,” Barnett said. “This has changed my life so much for the better.”