Medical marijuana dispensary plans new location
Carle Place residents found themselves blindsided last week by the announcement that a medical marijuana dispensary would be coming to Glen Cove Road.
At a meeting of the Carle Place Civic Association, representatives from PalliaTech, an eight-year-old medical marijuana dispensary with licenses in nine states, explained their plan to move into the first floor of 255 Glen Cove Rd. in Carle Place, the former site of Island Eye Surgicenter.
“I’m not against medical marijuana but the location and why we weren’t informed,” said John Heslin, president of the Carle Place Senior Citizens. “It’s wrong we weren’t notified.”
Civic Association vice-president Ursula Babino refrained from stating her opinion on the dispensary, but said she was “very disheartened with the Town of North Hempstead.”
“They did not have a conversation with the Civic, advising them the permit was in place,” said Babino, who ran for a first district council seat in the last election. “We’re not talking about another storefront; it’s a medical marijuana facility in our backyard. Why the town wouldn’t advise us baffles me.”
However, North Hempstead Councilwoman Viviana Russell said PalliaTech did not have to come before the town board with their application and that they did not have to approve it.
“They’re not asking for something outside of the code. There’s no public hearing,” said Russell. “When they initially came to us telling us they would be filing, I requested they speak to the community.”
Russell said the application for a permit had to be brought before the building department, which has since issued an omissions letter to PalliaTech. Russell said the company will have to go through the building department process, but because it’s not a zoning change there is no public hearing regarding the application.
Carole Trottere, a spokesperson for the Town of North Hempstead, noted that the location of medical marijuana facilities is tightly regulated by the state, and that the town’s role is limited to determining whether the location is compliant with zoning regulations.
“The zoning [for this building] permits both medical offices and retail pharmaceutical uses,” said Trottere. “The applicant has submitted plans to the town’s building department, which is currently reviewing them. That review will make sure that the plans comply with all building and zoning code requirements.”
PalliaTech’s dispensary in Carle Place will operate under the name CuraLeaf, and will offer not only state-regulated medical marijuana, but will act as a wellness center.
“It’s a warm friendly place that provides highly regulated medicine and education on the medicine. It’s designed for education,” Michelle Bodner, CEO of PalliaTech, said.
She noted that New York is the most regulated medical marijuana state in the country, and that PalliaTech works closely with the Department of Health to make sure it’s in compliance with state regulations.
Medical marijuana can be used to treat several ailments, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic pain, PTSD and spinal injuries. CuraLeaf will not sell direct flower; rather, everything in the dispensary is a formulated cannabis product, made in an off-site lab. Products will be available as pills, lozenges, inhalers and other forms, according to patient needs.
“Medical marijuana has been shown to be very helpful in helping control seizures, pain, nausea, and it’s a low addiction medicine,” said Bodner. “PalliaTech has helped thousands of people…The people who come to our facility are sick. We are a wellness center to help people get better.”
Not anyone off the street will be able to walk into the center; patients entering the facility must present a New York State Department of Health medical marijuana patient card, as well as a recommendation from a state certified practitioner. And once they receive the medicine, they’re entered in the I-STOP program, an Internet system that prevents a patient from receiving the same medication from multiple pharmacies.
Bodner said PalliaTech emphasizes education, and as such, all patients are educated on their medication.
“People go through a sort of education conversation about what we can do, expectations and once the patient and pharmacist decide on the best form of medication, the pharmacist gets the medication from a locked vault and hands it over to the patient,” Bodner said.
There are also state-mandated security requirements the facility must adhere by, including a bank-standard vault for their inventory, video surveillance cameras and access card readers for employees. An on-site security system will also monitor the parking lot, to ensure that patients are not taking the medicine on the premises.
As of now, CuraLeaf is slated to be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Tuesdays through Saturdays. The dispensary will be staffed by approximately 15 people, including pharmacy managers, pharmacy technicians and counselors.
PalliaTech has signed a five-year lease on the space and Bodner said they hope to open in the spring.
CuraLeaf marks the sole medical marijuana dispensary in the Town of North Hempstead. Trottere noted that a previous medical marijuana dispensary in New Hyde Park, which was also located in a medical office building, had also raised a lot of concerns before it opened, but was not a “significant problem for residential neighbors in practice and in fact has since closed.”
“We will do our best to make sure that this new facility too has a zoning code and building code compliant design, and we will make sure that there are no ongoing code violations after it opens,” she said.