Columbia Care, the United States’ largest medical marijuana company, opened its doors in Rochester late January with a location at the Eastman Building Park on West Ridge Road.
UR students’ reactions to its opening were diverse, with some supporting the dispensary, others opposing the use of medical marijuana, and many indifferent.
“I think it’s actually beneficial for people who have chronic pain, since it’s a non-prescription drug way to manage it,” senior and pre-med student Greg Matos said.
Sophomore Katie Hasselwander agreed that the opening of a local dispensary is good thing, citing her grandfather’s positive experience with the drug when he had cancer.
Medical marijuana is currently available by prescription for patients with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, seizures, or multiple sclerosis. Each dose costs about 95 cents, and individual patients’ costs can range from 100 to 300 dollars per month, depending on their needs.
The dispensary offers “reduced price programming” for patients who qualify, lessening the impact of insurance not covering medical marijuana. These doses are available as liquid tinctures that are placed under the tongue.
Many believe that other forms of treatment are just as helpful and less dangerous, regardless of marijuana’s usefulness for patients with serious illnesses.
“There are a lot of addictive drugs, and marijuana is one of them,” senior Hilba Zafar, another pre-med student, said. “[There] is very easy access, and [it] can very easily be abused, so I am just not a huge proponent of it being used in a professional setting.”
Other approved forms of medical marijuana in New York State include liquids and oils for vaporization or administration via an inhaler, and capsules taken orally. Smoking medical marijuana is illegal, so clinics do not offer smokeable forms.
The new store is currently only open on Thursdays, and patients can be seen by appointment only.
Patients are only allowed to make appointments once they are registered with the State. Over 150 physicians have registered with the program in Rochester alone. There is currently no public list of physicians who are registered to prescribe medical marijuana.
The dispensary employs 20 people for work in production and consultation and will continue to interview more applicants as demand increases.