ROCKVILLE, Md. — From the outside, the building is nondescript, your typical medical office nestled near an acupuncturist, a doctor’s office and steps from a CVS pharmacy.
From the inside, however, Bill Askinazi says he is watching medical miracles.
An example: The 35-year-old man, toes on both feet pointed inward, hobbling in on crutches. He’d been suffering muscle spasticity so long that his hands were knots, clenched tight.
A few days later, he returned, having received his first dose of medical marijuana. One hand was unclenched fully, the other partially. He walked in without crutches, on his own two feet.
“It was unbelievable,” said Askinazi, principal of Potomac Holistics, one of the state’s 22 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.
Since the dispensary opened Dec. 1, it has seen steady traffic, with those who receive “recommendations” for medical marijuana — federal law bars doctors from technically prescribing the drug — buzzing in from outside, signing in with a guard and waiting in a warm, inviting and locked waiting room before being given their dose and being sent on their way.
They’ve seen the sort of hurdles other businesses wouldn’t mind having: demand that exceeds supply, a customer base willing to drive 50 miles for the product, an incredible level of gratitude from that base.
And they’ve seen hurdles other companies might not face: The need to buy, not rent, a space to make sure that fickle landlords don’t have a change of heart; a need to do far more community outreach than other businesses might face; a need for extensive security and regulations that can be intimidating but, most agree, are utterly necessary.
Pay attention, Ohio: This may be you in a few months.
Maryland legalized medical marijuana in 2014 and now the state is seeing