BROCKTON — The state’s second medical marijuana dispensary opened Friday morning, receiving what its president described as brisk but orderly business.
“Overall, our patients are very happy today,” said David B. Noble, president of In Good Health, which was granted a 90-day waiver on Wednesday that allows it to sell marijuana that has not been fully tested for pesticides and other contaminants.
Noble said that by midday Friday, his dispensary had seen 100 to 150 customers at its 1200 W. Chestnut St. facility, a sprawling one-story building in the city’s southeastern corner, near the Easton line. Each patient spent about an hour and 15 minutes waiting in line and making their purchase, he said.
Some of the patients, Noble said, had been driving dozens of miles to the other dispensary, Alternative Therapies Group in Salem. Alternative Therapies served 1,500 patients in its first two months of operation.
Noble, who held a press conference outside the facility, said he had been working two years to make the dispensary a reality. Asked whether he was frustrated by the prolonged regulatory process, he said he was prepared for it. “Because this was a new process, we had to be patient with the entire system,” he said.
More than 20,000 people in Massachusetts have obtained certifications from their doctor permitting them to buy marijuana for medical reasons, and nearly 12,000 have registered to shop in a dispensary. But only two dispensaries have opened among the 15 that received provisional licenses.
The latest obstacle has been the testing laboratories’ difficulties in meeting state regulations for screening marijuana for pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants. Testing lab owners have complained that the Massachusetts rules are too stringent.
The state Department of Public Health granted waivers for the Salem and Brockton facilities so that patients can gain access to marijuana, while the testing laboratories work on buying, testing, and calibrating the equipment they will need.
In Good Health is permitted to sell a maximum of 4.23 ounces of plant material to each patient or caregiver. Under the waiver, In Good Health cannot sell cannabis oils or foods containing the drug.
Noble hired a Brockton police officer in addition to his own security detail for the first week of operation.
Each patient, he said, must present a valid medical marijuana card and identification, and also pass through a metal detector, before being buzzed into the dispensary.
The drug, sold for about $20 a gram, is placed in a child-resistant pill bottle and a white paper bag like those used at pharmacies. Patients receive a pamphlet describing how the product is grown, advice on selecting the best strain, a chart for tracking symptoms, and warnings against driving and the risk of dependence.