Cape Cod’s first medical marijuana dispensary is scheduled to open in Mashpee in the next few days, five years after voters legalized medical marijuana in Massachusetts. The company behind the dispensary is “Triple M,” which operates an existing dispensary and cultivation center in Plymouth. WCAI’s Sarah Tan visited the Plymouth site to get an idea of what’s to come.
It's estimated that about 40 percent of Triple M's customers in Plymouth are people driving up from the Cape.
In the years since voters legalized medical marijuana in Massachusetts, the state has been slow to permit dispensaries. Triple M is currently the only dispensary and cultivation center on the South Coast.
"We've been at this almost five years from when we first applied, to when we opened seven weeks ago," Chief Operating Officer Kevin O'Reilly said. "It was quite a long process, both from the state regulators and also locally with the towns."
On a tour through the Triple M facility, O'Reilly showed me the cultivation room and the processing room, along with the showroom up front. Product made at this Triple M site will be shipped to Mashpee in the coming weeks.
Because such a large portion of the Plymouth customer base is from the Cape, O'Reilly hopes the new Mashpee location will be more convenient for many people.
"We're also hoping that people who are relying on the black market, now those people will be able to come to a licensed dispensary and know exactly what they're getting in their cannabis product," O'Reilly said.
Mashpee has okayed the use of medical marijuana, but recreational marijuana is banned. O’Reilly says the Triple M site is looking to expand to recreational users in Plymouth in the coming months, but the Mashpee location will remain prescription-only.
Patti Anastasia is a medical marijuana patient who drives to Plymouth from Hyannis to get her CBD oil. She uses marijuana to treat her chronic pain and depression, but she said the 45 minute drive up from the Cape can be taxing on her health.
"I've had my license for about eight months," she said. "I first had to travel to Brookline, and then I went to Hanover and now I'm coming here, so I can't wait until Mashpee opens."
But as the Cape gears up for its first marijuana dispensary, some worry that increasing access can be harmful for communities. Linell Grundman, a former Sandwich selectman and activist on the Barnstable County Substance Abuse Council said she worries that increased access may mean increased exposure for children.
"We're looking at something that was voted in by adults, but has a tremendous impact on the youth in our communities," she said.
And as many in the area struggle with opioid addiction, she also worries that marijuana can act as a gateway drug.
"The more we legalize marijuana, the more we're saying it's normal and okay," Grundman said. "I'm on the side of people who worry that we're sending an irresponsible message, because there is harm involved in using this drug."
But for Anastasia, she said using marijuana has had the opposite effect. After using opioids for sleeping and depression for the past 20 years, she said she's finally weaned herself off with cannabis.
"I no longer take a sleep medicine anymore, and as I go on my journey with cannabis, I know I can get off more medication. It's been a life changer for me," she said.