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Medical marijuana dispensary Cannabist now open in the heart of Carytown

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A new medical marijuana dispensary has opened in the heart of Carytown as the number of patients seeking medical cannabis products is on the rise.

The new dispensary, Cannabist Carytown, is selling such products as flower, pre-rolls, vapes, edibles, tinctures, topical creams and extracts. Though still in early days, edibles, pre-rolls and live rosins have been among the most popular formats of product.

The 5,671-square-foot facility, located in the former Need Supply Co. building, has 11 points of sale and takes online orders. Prices can range with pre-rolls costing around $17, edibles for $35 and vapes around $40. Three-and-a-half grams of flower is listed online for between $50 and $60.

Cannabist show area

The show area of Cannabist Carytown, which recycled many elements from the building that housed Need Supply Co., displays products for sale at the kiosks near the far end of the room.

Cannabist’s parent company, Columbia Care, is one of the largest cultivators, manufacturers and providers of cannabis products and related services. It has 85 active dispensaries across the country.

“Virginia has the most patient-accessible program in the country, so we’re proud to make another location available to those who need it,” said Jesse Channon, chief growth officer of Columbia Care. “Virginia’s medical program has grown nearly six times in size in less than two years, which shows an increasing demand in product and the need for more dispensaries.”

Cannabist is the company’s first location with this brand name in the Richmond area. It has two other Cannabist stores in Virginia Beach and Portsmouth.

Columbia Care also owns Maryland-based Green Leaf Medical — shortened to gLeaf — which it purchased in 2021 for $240 million. gLeaf currently has an 82,000-square-foot medical marijuana production facility in the Swansboro neighborhood of South Richmond, as well as a store there and in Short Pump. Both stores carry each other’s branded products.

Green Leaf secured approval in 2018 from the Virginia Board of Pharmacy to be the lone medical cannabis licensee for an area that includes the Richmond region and parts of Southside Virginia. New York-based Columbia Care holds the license for the Hampton Roads region, where it has its own production facility in Portsmouth. Columbia Care became the licensee in the Richmond jurisdiction after acquiring gLeaf.

Virginia adopted new laws earlier this year that made it easier for medical users to buy products. As of July 1, patients are no longer required to register with the Board of Pharmacy after getting written consent and need only that written certification to shop at the state’s dispensaries.

That change has increased the number of patients looking for relief from medical cannabis.

Cannabist products

The store also sells accessories to accompany its cannabis products. Water pipes are used to consume the cannabis flower. A pharmacist at the site said some accessories, like this pipe, are designed to be a showcase item in someone's home.

“Since the new policy change that took effect, we have seen registration count increase to a base of more than 45,000 patients across the state,” Channon said. “The Cannabist retail model offers a welcoming environment for anyone who wants to learn more about the power of this incredible plant.”

Tetrahydrocannabinol — or THC, the active ingredient in cannabis-based products — is commonly used to treat such conditions as insomnia, pain or anxiety. It has also been used to lessen the severity of conditions like epilepsy.

Richmond resident Debra Wilson started shopping at Cannabist when it opened in late October to alleviate pain in her ankle. She suffered a severe bone infection that took two years of treatments and never fully healed. Her ankle still has painful swelling and skin irritation that throbs constantly throughout the day.

After treatments ended, she turned to buying oxycodone from the street. She eventually registered to get medical marijuana, which she said was a better pain inhibitor than opioids which she had built a tolerance to.

“This really was my only option,” Wilson said. “I don’t want to do heroin, and I don’t want to take a chance buying on the street.”

Wilson said she usually likes to purchase indica varieties of cannabis — whether in edible, vaporizer or flower format — because it helps most with the pain.

People going to Cannabist have to bring a valid government-issued ID and a printed copy of their written certification from their doctor. Technicians help customers with product questions, and a pharmacist can help with more in-depth questions about medicinal uses.

“We believe in the power of the plant, and understand that the shopping process can be daunting. But that’s why we designed Cannabist the way we did — so patients can have a meaningful conversation,” Channon said. “Our advice would be to lean into that experience and, once you’ve tried a product or two, be honest with the staff about its effectiveness so they can help you continue on your cannabis journey.”

Flower for products is grown in Virginia at two large cultivation facilities. Once harvested, it goes through testing and is then packaged and transported to dispensaries and wholesale partners.

Cannabist’s first sale was on Oct. 28. It expects to open its next location in Williamsburg in the coming weeks, pending Board of Pharmacy approval.

sjones1@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6911

Twitter: @SeanJones_RTD

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