Brooklyn’s First Medical Cannabis Dispensary Opens

(TIML NEWS)Brooklyn’s first licensed medical cannabis dispensary, Citiva, officially opened for business at 202 Flatbush Avenue on Sunday, December 30.

“The store is designed to provide the most patient-friendly experience possible,” Carlos Perea, Chief Operating Officer of iAnthus Capital Holdings, said in a statement. iAnthus owns the Citiva brand. “It serves as a welcoming and educational space for people to come in and learn about cannabis as medicine, interact with our patient care representatives, and find out what works best for them.”

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Don’t expect to find dime bags, rolling papers, or bongs at the new facility. Located across from the Barclays Center, the bright 2,000-square-foot retail space looks like a typical Brooklyn boutique, designed with a modern apothecary feel.

“Everything is produced into an oil and then made into a different delivery system. There is no flower allowed,” said Colleen Hughes, Citiva’s Director of Community Development and Education, Wednesday morning when telling Bklyner about the available products. “It’s all made into an oil and then the oil takes different forms,” including capsules, vaporization (for vape pens), and water soluble powders which can be mixed into beverages.

While New York State allows the sale of medicinal marijuana, actual cannabis flower is not currently legal here. According to NYS regulations, Citiva sells products that are broken down in ratio by THC and CBD. “THC and CBD are the main therapeutic cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant,” Hughes explained. “In most cases people are isolating THC and CBD. THC is the molecule that causes the psychoactive effect, which is what cannabis is sort of notorious for,” she said. “CBD has zero psychoactive effect and is primarily the therapeutic benefit, the therapeutic cannabinoid, that complements THC. We put them together because together they work better than they do apart,” she added

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Hughes noted there are approximately 200 different compounds found in a cannabis plant that provide different effects. When patients purchase a vape pen cartridge at Citiva, it is packaged inside a tin labeled with its therapeutic benefits, “BT” for Bed Time, “FPR” for Fast Pain Relief, “GMS” for Good Morning Sunshine, etc.

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With a staff of more than a dozen including two pharmacists experienced in cannabinoid medicine, Hughes said “anyone from the public can come into the dispensary and ask questions, talk to the patient care representative or the pharmacist.” (After being buzzed in, visitors must sign in and show identification.) However, a NYS-issued ID card is required to purchase any cannabis-based medication. “They can buy a t-shirt, they can buy a water bottle, they can buy a battery system [for a vape pen], but anything that has cannabis in it, they cannot buy,” she said of visitors without a state-

“Slow but steady,” is how Hughes described traffic at the shop since its opening just over a week ago. The three customers shopping at Citiva during Bklyner’s visit declined to be interviewed.

“We’re finding that still a lot of people do not know that medical marijuana is legal in New York State,” she noted. “We really have an opportunity here to educate people…. We want to offer a service to the community. It’s not just about bringing people in the door, it’s about educating everyone about the benefits,” she added.

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While she is not legally allowed to make health claims, Hughes described her own personal experience using medical cannabis. “I’ve suffered from a chronic pain condition called endometriosis for more than 25 years. I’ve been prescribed all methods of birth control, hormone therapy, surgery, opiates, everything. I had been on opiates for over ten years,” she said. Hughes tried cannabis about two and a half years ago and said, “It helps treat the pain that I get in a way that was able to lessen my dependency on opiates. I’ve been completely opiate-free for almost a year now.”

Some of the qualifying conditions that medical cannabis can help treat include: chronic pain, post-traumatic stress, cancer, epilepsy, neuropathy (fibromyalgia), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and HIV or AIDS. Visit the Medical Marijuana Program section of the New York State Department of Health website for the full list of conditions.

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