Dispensary taking final steps for grand opening

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Medical marijuana business prepared for customers

Since its approval in January, the Cassville Dispensary has been making headway on the local storefront to be prepared to open as soon as possible.

Charlea Estes-Jones, Cassville Dispensary assistant manager, said when all of the other pieces fall into place, the dispensary will be ready to open.

A patient’s journey begins with an appointment to obtain a medical marijuana card, and once that is achieved, the patient will be prepared to speak with someone at the dispensary.

Located at 460 State Highway 76, the Cassville Dispensary lobby is a spacious, safe and secure area to be treated using medical marijuana.

Once a patient enters the building, he or she will check in with the security manager, Nicholas Sleeth. Then, the patient must provide a government issued photo I.D. and a patient card. At this time, a digital copy will be accepted, but it is encouraged for the patient to get a printed copy.

Now, the patient is ready to be called to the back room.

In the meantime, there is a waiting space with an ATM and a handicap accessible restroom that will comfortably seat eight people social distancing, but patients are also welcome to wait in their cars or in the coffee shop next door.

Upon check-in, patients will receive a restaurant style buzzer that will notify them when it is their turn.

According to Estes-Jones, the patient will only be allowed to enter the back room if escorted by a staff member.

“We will maintain a one-to-one patient to staff member ratio,” she said. “The only exception to that will be for a disability or issue that the patient requires someone to assist them.”

During that scenario, the person accompanying the patient will need to be 18 years old or older and provide a photo I.D. as well.

“We will have three people manning the registers with cannabis in the cabinets,” Estes-Jones said. “We also have two patient education suites. This is an area that will have a love seat or chairs that provides a private place for the patient to ask detailed questions.”

There will be a dedicated LPN patient consultant, whose entire role is patient education.

“This will help the patient to feel less rushed,” Estes-Jones said. “It also allows for time for the patient to go over a detailed medical history, describe medications they are currently on or if they have never seen cannabis before, it allows for us to have those conversations.

“We want the patient to feel comfortable to ask any question they have.”

Unfortunately for the patients, a lot of them are not receiving further instructions after getting their cards — this is leaving a lot of unanswered questions.

“We are offering a Patient Medication Journal to every patient for free,” Estes-Jones said. “This is a way to track medications and health goals.”

There is a goal setting and check-in page that allows the patient to track their Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based (SMART) goals.

Additionally, a separate page allows patients to track what type of products they are using, at what dosage, at what times, symptoms before and after medicating, as well as feelings, notes and comments to evaluate at their next appointment.

This allows patients to have control of their treatment.

“We wanted to have a whole wellness experience for the patient,” Estes-Jones said. “If we have a patient that knows what they want, great. But, we want an atmosphere for those patients that aren’t that confident as well.”

The Cassville Dispensary is a secure facility with a distinct walkthrough.

“In order for us to receive cannabis, it must first be grown, then lab tested and finally transported,” she said. “All of this must happen through the medical marijuana program.”

At this time, two of the dispensaries in Missouri have been approved.

“We are hoping to be the third,” Estes-Jones said. “We had our commencement inspection on Thursday, and it went really well.

“There were a few minor things that we had to address, and those were all fixed by Friday.”

The Cassville Dispensary has been in constant communication with the state since January.

“We are expecting to hear something in a week or two once we have been authorized to open.”

The news of that opening will be posted on the dispensary Facebook page, as well as on their website.

“When we first open, we will not have any cannabis products,” she said. “But, we will be able to go ahead and do new patient registration and patient consultations.

“This will allow us to put in notes, preferences and issues to be treated in the patient file.”

This registration or consultation is recommended because it will help the first appointments, once the Cassville Dispensary gets product, to go very smoothly.

“Unfortunately, we have had some patients who are needing to renew a card that they haven’t been able to use yet,” she said. “We understand this is extremely frustrating, but so many patients are thankful to have had this year of legal protection.”

Patients have had the ability to cultivate on their own, so there were some options available.

“We have actually hosted patient cultivation courses,” Estes-Jones said. “Some we have offered for free. We will continue to offer those courses, as well as carry cultivation supplies.”

Even though the dispensary will not have product at the time of opening, it will have instruments available for purchase before flower comes in.

“High-quality CBD can still be purchased through Roark Family Health and Medical Spa,” she said. “On the dispensary side of the business, only patient card holders and caregivers may enter or purchase products.”

However, there will also be a coffee shop available to all members of the community.

“We will have coffee, smoothies and food,” Estes-Jones said. “The coffee shop and dispensary are completely separate businesses that are just owned by the same owner.”

From floor to ceiling, the wall between the businesses is completely reinforced.

“We wanted to give patients somewhere comfortable they could go to wait if they chose to,” she said. “Additionally, we have a drive-through service. This will not be a place to make an order. The patient will have to call in or order online. Then, they will receive a call or text when their order is ready to pick up.”

It is a fully secure bank-style drive through.

“We have not set a date to open our online ordering option at this time because we don’t know what our first order of product will look like,” she said. “We are in talks with cultivators, but we are not in any contract at this time.

“We won’t place an order until we have seen and reviewed their lab results.”

Another question that is often asked is, can the dispensary purchase from patient cultivators?

“No, we cannot purchase from a patient cultivator or out of state product,” Estes-Jones said. “We can only purchase from a Missouri-licensed cultivation facility.”

Those cultivation facilities are seeing delays due to COVID-19.

“When all pieces of the puzzle are ready, we will be ready,” she said. “Opening prior to receiving product will help to ensure that.”

Also, if a patient is having difficulty completing a card renewal or certification, Dr. Lisa Roark, dispensary owner, has posted a walkthrough to help guide patients. They may also reach out to an employee on the Facebook page to get help.

“We were approved in January,” she said. “The next step was to pass the minimum qualifications review in March. We heard back from that in July.

“They asked us to let them know when we were 30 days from being ready to open. We emailed them immediately and started our work.”

Estes-Jones said it has been a huge group effort on every part of the business to get prepared.

“The construction and security teams have been amazing,” she said. “We have all worked so hard for this final push.”

The Cassville Dispensary has completed the minor issues from the commencement inspection and is eagerly awaiting news of their approval.

People may follow the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CassvilleDispensary for news on the opening day.

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