Medical marijuana coming to a dispensary near you
~Travis Rocha, Lifestyle Editor~
In July 2020, Virginia legalized medical marijuana as part of a national trend in which Americans are becoming more and more comfortable with the substance, as it’s been legalized or decriminalized in many states. What was once denounced and condemned is now being shone in an all new light across the country. Supported by medical research, marijuana has been proven to help those suffering from anxiety and stress-related disorders as well as many other ailments. Though, despite the law being passed months ago, the turnaround has been a relatively slow process as a lot of work goes into starting and operating a dispensary in order to bring medical marijuana to Virginia patients.
Green Leaf (gLeaf) is a dispensary company that is bringing its business to Richmond next month. Phil Goldberg, CEO of gLeaf, explained his company’s operations. “We’re a multi state operator of medical cannabis facilities. We have operations focused in the Mid Atlantic region. We have cultivation extraction and retail in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia,” he said.
gLeaf in Richmond will be the second medical marijauana dispensary in Virginia after several months of construction and cultivation. “First, we were issued a license and patients got excited that there’s a program coming to Virginia finally after many years, but we had to build out the facilities. It took a long time and we spent loads of money to build up the facility. And, you know, now we’ve got the facility built and patients get excited that we’re getting closer to having medical cannabis available in the state. But then we get to plant the plants and the whole process takes about four months until it’s ready to be harvested as a flowering plant,” Goldberg said.
All of gLeaf’s marijuana is grown on-location in Richmond where they recently completed their first harvest. “The harvest is after we’ve grown the plants, now we’re cutting the plants down harvesting all those, turning them into oils,” Goldberg explained. The first harvest is a big milestone for any dispensary. “We celebrate every harvest but we celebrate that first one especially. It’s significant for [us] because this is the first time [we’ve] got to see these plants grow all the way through their cycle and take that material down. Now, [the workers] are getting to do new things in the facility, rather than just caring for the growing plants. They’re involved in cutting the plants down, the drying process, the curing process. You know, the entire harvest process and now that material is making its way to the extraction lab,” he continued.
As marijuana is becoming more normalized, Goldberg is expecting patients to be lined up at the door for their grand opening — socially distanced, of course. However, he stressed the importance of registering with the state in a timely fashion to prevent delays. “The thing is, the program launches and patients, all of the sudden, try to get registered with the state and with the actual dispensaries and there’s a huge log jam. So, we definitely recommend that patients get registered with the state and register with gLeaf. We recommend that you get registered now, it takes time. And there’ll be long lines and delays if you wait until the program officially launches,” he said.
Despite their first store not having opened yet, Goldberg went on to share his plans for expansion in Virginia. “We’ll be opening five additional dispensaries in the Richmond health service area, which comprises approximately 1.4 million individuals in and around the Richmond area,” he said. Phil was also excited to share gLeaf’s delivery options. “We operate one of the most robust home delivery operations in the states where we currently operate and where they allow home delivery. So that’s something we’re really excited about. It makes getting access to Green Leaf products much easier if you’re in Northern Virginia. The first time you’re gonna have to drive down and see us to get entered into the system. After we verify your identity and that you have a valid recommendation from a healthcare provider that you’ve registered with the state as a patient, then we’ll be able to issue home delivery from that point forward.”
gLeaf plans on opening its doors on Oct. 15 this year. The store is located at 2804 Decatur Street in Richmond. Visit their website at https://www.gleaf.com/virginia/ for more information about how to register as a patient.