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Southern Maryland's medical cannabis store set to open soon

Mechanicsville, MD- Southern Maryland’s first medical cannabis dispensary, Southern Maryland Relief, welcomed residents to an open house to learn more about the store and what it will offer.

Southern Maryland Relief is not yet selling medicine but patients had the opportunity stop by Thursday and Friday, Nov. 2 and 3 for a tour and pre-registration. By registering early, it will speed up the check-in process once the store is open for business.

Medical cannabis has been gaining attention across the nation as a way to help those suffering with chronic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, appetite loss and glaucoma. According to research, cannabinoids—the active chemical in medical marijuana—are similar to the chemicals the body makes that are involved in appetite, memory, movement and pain.

About half of the states and Washington, DC have approved some forms of medical marijuana. Four states—Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska have also legalized recreational marijuana.

At Southern Maryland Relief the mission is clear—providing the community with a safe and natural option. Charlie Mattingly, co-owner, said the store will offer a variety of cannabis-based medicine in various forms. “We have pills, patches, oils and lotions in addition to cannabis people can smoke.” Mattingly also explained not all of the medicine includes tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical compound in marijuana that gives you a euphoric high.

Southern Maryland Relief has patient counselors who are knowledgeable about cannabis and can offer suggestions to patients to help them relieve their symptoms. Mattingly explained, “The counselors went through extensive training with consultants from other states. They know what strains can help with certain ailments and pain. They can talk with and educate patients on what they should try.”
Mattingly said the store will also have a full time nurse practitioner on staff. “She’s been educated for the past two years on cannabis. She knows all of the details about the medical side of the plant,” Mattingly said.

To be approved to purchase medical cannabis, you must receive a medical recommendation from your doctor. The recommendation is good for one year. “There are over a dozen medical professionals in our area who are writing the recommendations. The state has approved dentists, mid-wives, nurse practitioners, pain management doctors—pretty much any medical professional in the state can write a recommendation,” Mattingly noted.

After the year is up the nurse practitioner can meet with patients to see if they should continue using medical cannabis. “Our nurse practitioner will go over the patient’s medical records and what they’ve been doing and determine if it’s working. If it’s determined they should still be treated, patients will receive another recommendation good for one year.”

Currently, patients will pay out-of-pocket for their purchase but Mattingly expects that to change soon. “I look for it to change in the next year to two years. There are so many bills in place that are trying to change it to a schedule three drug and then it would be covered by insurance.”

Mattingly realizes stigma still stands in the way for many people. But he said that’s changing fast. “The government has a patent on this. It’s been proven to help patients with dementia because it helps repair brain cells but the old stigma claimed it damaged brain cells.”

The patent Mattingly is referring to is U.S. Patent No. 6,630,507. It was granted in 2003 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The patent says by using non-psychoactive cannabinoids, it can protect the brain from damage or degeneration caused by certain diseases. Researchers say non-psychoactive compounds in cannabis may have antioxidant properties that could be beneficial in the treatment of certain neurological diseases.

Despite the government’s patent, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration still opted to not reschedule marijuana—meaning it’s still listed as a drug with no legitimate medical use.

Mattingly said that’s not stopping people from wanting to try it. “People are learning more every day. We’re getting 25-30 requests a day from people who want to try it for pain.”

This business plan started forming back in 2014. Since then, Mattingly said he has spoken to everyone in the state. “Every delegate, every commissioner—we even have the full support of the sheriff’s office and the vice squad.” Mattingly also noted law enforcement officers have been in to tour the shop and to see first-hand how it operates.

“Every night all of our products will go into a vault,” Mattingly explained. “At the end of the day this will be a pharmacy where patients can get medicine that has been illegal for no reason.”

Southern Maryland Relief expects to open its doors within the next two weeks. Hours will be Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southern Maryland Relief is located at 28105 Three Notch Road in Mechanicsville.

Contact Joy Shrum at j.shrum@thebaynet.com

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