Since last year, cannabis businesses in Frederick County have been hunkering down and preparing for a flood of people they expect will come through their doors on Saturday.
July 1 marks the first day that cannabis will be legal recreationally for those 21 and older. Medical use is already legal in the state and roughly 163,000 people use it for medical purposes, according to The Associated Press.
Maryland voters passed adult use in a referendum in October, expanding the marijuana market to about 4 million people, the AP reported.
gLeaf, also known as Green Leaf Medical, is expecting to see a line around its Wedgewood Boulevard dispensary on Saturday, Matt Jenner, gLeaf’s regional marketing coordinator, said.
gLeaf grows, processes and sells cannabis in Frederick County. The company has multiple dispensaries in the state, and also operates in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.
Within the first month, Jenner said, he’s expecting gLeaf to have three to four times more transactions than normal at the Frederick location. After a couple months, he expects the excitement will ease and plateau.
In order to prepare for the anticipated increase in customers, production at gLeaf has gone up 50%, he and Jesus Martinez, gLeaf Extracts’ general manager, said. gLeaf Extracts is an entity within the broader gLeaf company.
Everyone from the growing operation to the lab and edibles kitchen had to double down to make enough product to meet demand, they said.
This includes flower — also known as bud — edibles, dab, vape cartridges, pre-rolled joints and more. Those products are also sold at other companies’ dispensaries, they said.
They’ve also been experimenting with new products, like a new “cannagar” or cannabis cigar. Because of its high THC concentration, it will only be available to medical patients.
Recreational users will be allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, 12 grams of concentrated cannabis and up to 750 grams of total amount of cannabis products.
In one vault at gLeaf’s lab, there was over 300 pounds of cannabis trim ready to be turned into a concentrate. A nearby freezer was packed with cannabis buds that were frozen while fresh.
Michael Brown, the assistant edibles manager at the gLeaf lab, said that in just the nine months he’s been at gLeaf, he’s made 280,000 edibles. And that number is a low ball estimate, he said.
Martinez said that things have slowed down at the lab and edibles kitchen since they’ve met their goal, which is four times what they usually produce. Now they’re maintaining a steady rhythm of production.
“We’re trying to do our best to make sure that our patients and especially the new rec users are able to get quality products throughout the entire time,” he said.
And in order to make that much product, gLeaf went on a hiring blitz. At the lab, Martinez said his team of six grew to 20. The Frederick dispensary had to hire around 30 more people, Jenner said.
Jenner said he did not know how many more staff members were added to the team at the growing operation.
And gLeaf is still looking for people to fill wholesale delivery drivers positions, among other jobs.
Jennifer Miller, the owner of SweetBud Dispensary, located on New Design Road, similarly expects the amount of daily customers to at least triple.
The self-described mom and pop dispensary sees 300 to 400 people each day, Miller said.
Much like gLeaf, Sweet Buds has been preparing for more customers by hiring more knowledgeable people — and are still hiring — buying more products to put on their shelves and renovating their space to accommodate the new customers.
Curaleaf operates a dispensary on Urbana Pike and say they are ready to handle the great number of customers. The company will have a grand opening celebration on Saturday.
All the aforementioned dispensaries have all been licensed to sell to recreational customers starting Saturday, but they say they haven’t lost sight of their medical patients.
The companies say they have all implemented measures to make sure their medical patients don’t get lost in all the hubbub created by new recreational users.
All the medical users were notified by dispensaries and the Maryland Cannabis Association to stock up prior to July 1. SweetBud had deals for their patients, too, Miller said.
The dispensaries have also dedicated registers for their medical patients, and have different lines for them.
“We made some more recent upgrades to that facility, just to make sure as we prioritize our medical guests through lines and priority registers in the store, that will be able to make sure they have expedient access to product in and out of facility,” Dinesh Penugonda, senior vice president of retail operations for Curaleaf, said about the new Urbana Pike location.
Curaleaf also hired 40 new employees for the Frederick dispensary to keep a steady flow of customer traffic.
There’s still a lot to figure out with recreational legalization, especially with the new customers, Miller said. She wants to make sure that people who are trying cannabis for the first time are educated and get proper guidance to buy the product that’s right for them.
Miller said she believes recreational use will be beneficial to a lot of people. There are plenty of military veterans who are interested in using cannabis for medical reasons, but are afraid about the firearm restrictions that come with having a medical cannabis card.
Federal law prohibits people with medical cannabis cards from purchasing or possess a firearm, according to the Maryland Cannabis Commission.
With recreational use, they won’t have to worry anymore, she said. But everyone has their own reasons for using it, and as long as it’s consumed with the proper knowledge, it can be beneficial, she said.
“We just hope people keep learning about it. It’s an amazing plant,” she said. (Full Story)