PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — April 20 was a day for brisk business at Columbia Care in Portsmouth, the area’s only authorized dispensary of medical marijuana. The cannabis culture holiday was a time for holiday shopping.
Come July 1, Virginians will be able to grow their own in limited amounts. But customers tell 10 On Your Side they’ll continue to visit Columbia to get relief from pain, insomnia, arthritis and other ailments.
For now, the dispensary sells only oils, vapes, tablets and other extract products. It hopes to be selling flower marijuana and add more locations in Hampton Roads as soon as the fall of this year, according to Ngiste Abebe, Columbia Care vice president for public policy.
Beina Khawani, of Newport News, says the current products have kept her from having to get back surgery. She will keep buying them even after simple possession is legalized July 1.
“[When you’re] purchasing other places, you don’t know if it’s real, you don’t know what you’re getting. I know exactly what I’m getting here. It’s on the box,” she said.
“I’ll continue to come here but I may try to grow a little. It’s been a while since I’ve smoked,” said customer Sonya Dobson.
By state law, everything is grown on-site and you need certification from a doctor to be able to purchase. The company says the expanding use of telehealth visits is making that step easier.
“So many folks are dealing with debilitating pain or other conditions that can make mobility and getting into that doctor’s office for that first appointment really challenging,” Abebe said.
“I definitely will come here because I’m able to know exactly what the doses are and that’s important to me,” said Gervan Smith, of Chesapeake, who uses the products for his arthritis and anxiety.
“It’s very comforting to have it,” said Linda Caldwell of Virginia Beach who has chronic pain. “I don’t drink, I never have. I don’t like booze. It doesn’t make me feel good and this makes me feel good.”