Open for less than a month, Carson City’s first medical marijuana dispensary is doing more business than operators expected.
“Things have been good out the gate,” said Manager Tyler Brennan. “It’s been needed here for a while.”
He said Rise, located on Clearview near Carson’s southern border, is drawing patients from Lyon and Douglas counties as well as Carson City and beyond.
“About 10 percent of patients are from out of state,” he said. “Fifty percent and up are seniors.”
He said about 30 percent of patients who come to the dispensary each day are new to Rise.
“We’re doing almost the maximum volume we can handle here,” he said.
One reason for that, he said, is the company focuses much more on the customer’s experience than some dispensaries in other states.
“We want people to come in and feel relaxed,” he said.
The inner sanctum is decorated with easy chairs and an ADA compliant service counter.
The focus is on education, particularly for those seniors and others who haven’t had marijuana before, Brennan said.
“Right now there’s such a need for education on medical cannabis,” he said
He said the goal is to find the appropriate product and the appropriate dosage of that product for each patient. Often, he said, they start a patient on a product with a low level of THC to gauge its effectiveness.
“We’re focusing on continuing education and customer service,” he said.
The big concern among opponents has been edibles that can be much stronger than just smoking pot. Brennan said the company has been encouraging the companies that make edibles to reduce the intensity of those products and make them less like candy.
As for children getting edibles and getting sick, he said much like alcohol, it’s really up to the adults to make sure kids can’t get to those products by locking them away and educating the children. He said Rise doesn’t sell products that look more like candy than medicine.
He said in just the first month, they are seeing improvements in some of their patients. Where many had difficulty even walking into Rise, he said, “we’re now seeing some people smiling, feeling better.”
He said one man told them his wife was eating better and sleeping better than before.
“More than a few people are weaning themselves off harder drugs,” he said.
Those include such things as the highly addictive opioids like Oxycontin.
He said compared to California, Nevada’s testing standards and patient compliance are a lot more stringent. One issue is getting doctors to prescribe marijuana for chronic conditions.
“We’re having some struggles finding local doctors in Carson City,” Brennan said.
They’re also having trouble with banking. Federally insured banks can’t or won’t touch the medical marijuana industry’s cash and there’s always the danger the federal government could seize those assets if they did bank them.
“We haven’t been able to find a bank here,” he said.
But Brennan said in his two years in the business — mostly in Colorado — security hasn’t been a problem. Rise has 24-hour video feeds to security, extensive camera coverage as well as access restrictions, the vault and panic buttons to get help if ever needed.
Rise plans to open a second dispensary in Spanish Springs just north of Reno in the near future and, after that, they will open a cultivation or “grow site” on Deer Run Road in Carson City.