By Jennifer Corr and Nick Zararis
Representatives of a medical cannabis company that will open a new location at 255 Glen Cove road later this spring addressed community concerns during the Feb.28 Carle Place Civic Association meeting.
The dispensary in Carle Place would be the third dispensary one to open on Long Island. The two other dispensaries, not associated with Curaleaf, are located in New Hyde Park and Riverhead.
“We chose the location based on proximity to the major highways, which helps patients,” Kathleen Deegan Dickson, the attorney representing the company, said during the meeting. “This was about being able to serve as many patients as possible in a competitively listed property.”
Palliatech offers medical marijuana, in the form of pills and liquid oils for vaporizing, through its retail brand Curaleaf. In New York State, there are only 12 “debilitating” conditions, like cancer or PTSD, that qualify a patient for medical marijuana certification. Otherwise, it is illegal to smoke medical cannabis, and edibles are not allowed under existing regulations.
“The unfamiliarity with the topic drove a larger than usual turnout,” Kevin Ketterhagen, civic association board member, said. The civic association has 239 member “families,” and serves as an intermediary for residents with the board for the Town of North Hempstead.
Medical marijuana is legal in 30 states, 12 of which Palliatech currently operates in. To obtain medical marijuana, a registered practitioner that is approved by the New York State Department of Health must certify the patient. This certification has several safeguards against potential abuse.
“In New York State, the Department of health has what’s called the I-Stop system,” Mike Conway, Curaleaf’s director of dispensaries in New York said. “Whenever you purchase medical cannabis it goes into a statewide system that prevents people from going to multiple locations [with the same certification].”
The benefits of medical cannabis as opposed to traditional opiods make the decision clear to one 9/11 first responder with PTSD.
“Who wants to take pills and get addicted to those?” Joseph Douso, Carle Place resident, said. “It’s such a problem in the country today and it’s what big Pharma doesn’t want you to talk about, medical cannabis does a lot for people.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Medical marijuana can also serve as a buffer to treat the side effects from other medications.
A Long Island family physician, Lynda Varlotta, has seen medical marijuana positively affect her patients first hand.
“I just think we are heading in the right direction for bringing it to people medically,” Varlotta said.
For one year, Obdulio De Leon, who has stage four cancer, took multiple medications, including Oxycontin and morphine, for his pain and complications. The medication did cut down on the pain, but it also gave De Leon severe headaches, heartburn, tiredness and less motivation to live a healthy lifestyle.
After being prescribed medical marijuana, De Leon said he was able to cut down his medications to just the marijuana oil because it alleviated all the pain and side effects of chemotherapy.
“The cannabis oil really helped me towards a healthy style of living,” De Leon said. “And even now I’m going to start doing some yoga and meditation.”
Palliatech signed a five year lease with the commercial real estate company that owns the property. The company has to appear before the town zoning board on March 21st for a variance on the parking lot before officially opening later this spring.