LEICESTER – Growing Holdings Inc. on Main Street is the first medical marijuana dispensary to be opened in Worcester County.
The heavily insured facility, housed in a 23,000-square-foot old tool and die shop at 1764 Main St., has marijuana cultivation, processing and dispensing under one roof. The business is located on the west side of Route 9, one of the commercial zoning districts where medical marijuana facilities are allowed.
"We grow it here, we're extracting it here and packing it and selling it at the front door, it's like a farm for the table, but in the world of cannabis," Sam Barber, president of the company, said on Tuesday. 24 years.
The business opened on Friday and is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Mr. Barber said that about 40 clients from all over the state visit the business every day.
"People in Worcester County are driving one hour to Northampton or to Newton, the closest locations, and when they get there, they end up waiting an hour online to be served," he said. "We are seeing people from all over the state who just want to see the new place and see what new products are there."
The company, formerly called Natural HealthCare, offers nine varieties of cannabis flower that have varying percentages of THC and CBD that produce different effects. For example, different strains are used for body relaxation, pain relief, better focus or better creativity.
The company is working on 20 to 30 more product lines, including groceries, to be available in the coming months.
Clients must have current government-issued identification and a state medical marijuana license before they are allowed to enter the dispensary. Once inside, the company creates a customer profile in its database.
Suzanne Melanson, manager of dispensaries, said that for many patients it is a matter of trial and error to find the right tension for their ailment. Customers are offered a diary so they can track what works for them and at what dose. The employees of the company can not recommend a particular variety.
"The patient advocate guides you here, we can tell you about how other patients have benefited from the medication," he said.
Ms. Melanson said her 19-year-old son, who has an attention deficit disorder, has been able to cut his medication by half by taking a particular variety of marijuana. It also stimulates your appetite and helps you sleep better, he said. He and his twin sister were born prematurely, and his sister had a complete spinal fusion operation a couple of years ago. Instead of using opioids to treat chronic pain and inflammation, use other varieties of medical marijuana, said Ms. Melanson.
Jennifer S. Grace of Leominster, a former hospice and hospice nurse in the Worcester and Boston areas for 10 years, now works as a patient assistant in Cultivate. She said that she saw a tremendous need for better pain control and better management of symptoms.
"Many pain patients do not want to take painkillers because of the side effects, which include depression and constipation," he said. "And when they're medicated, they do not feel like they're part of their environment, they're out of their minds, they're half-headed, a lot of people do not like having that feeling, it provides pain relief without those side effects."
Mr. Barber said several clients have been veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The company offers several discounts, including one for veterans. There is also a discount for seniors and a discount for economic difficulty calculated on a sliding scale. Prices range from $ 15 for pre-rolled medical marijuana cigarettes to $ 50 for 1/8 ounce to $ 350 for 1 ounce.
"Every day I hear a new story about how this is changing people's lives … helping them to be able to get up in the morning and live their lives in a better way," said Mr. Barber. "When we analyzed this from the beginning, we saw that there is a great benefit, but we have to get rid of the stigma of marijuana in general, there is the idea that it is bad, but we see a lot of the positive that comes from"
He said that He has been working in the business for approximately four years. He applied for a license in 2015. He spent another 18 months working with the city. Under the host agreement, the company will pay the city an annual impact fee of $ 50,000, as of the thirteenth month after the opening.
Mr. Barber said the business has also created 20 jobs and expects to hire 30 more people in the coming months. He said that "thousands" of people applied for jobs. There were more than 600 applicants just for the position of assistant manager, he said. Many of the employees are from Leicester and surrounding towns, he added.
The native of Portland, Maine, travels from Boston. He earned a Bachelor of Business and Business Administration from Babson College in Wellesley in 2016. His partners are his father, Steve Barber, former operator of Barber Foods, a chicken processing company in Portland that was sold to Tyson Foods; and Robert Lally, owner of the Mount Abram ski area in Maine.
Mr. Barber said the partners plan to expand their businesses to offer recreational marijuana when the state permits next year.