Del Rey Oaks >> The police will be watching over the Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine medical marijuana dispensary when it opens Friday. If there’s any trouble, all the cops will have to do is run downstairs.
The Del Rey Oaks dispensary will be the only one in the nation with a police substation on its second floor.
The dispensary hosted an open house for city officials and media Thursday evening at the 800 Portola Drive site and is set for a soft opening around noon Friday.
“Safety and security are our No. 1 priority,” said Ryan Burke, general manager, who has six years experience having run a dispensary in Berkeley.
It was not a requirement of the city to have the police presence, but an idea from the owners and stewards of the dispensary — Lonna Lewis-Blodgett and her husband, Robert Blodgett. It’s one way they worked to “take the stigma out of it for the clients,” Lewis-Blodgett said.
The husband-and-wife team is serious about its business being transparent. Security cameras are trained on the exterior and interior and video feeds up to the substation.
Employees who have gone through a background check are there to guide patrons through the process from start to finish.
Clients can expect to be met outside the building where the screening process begins. If they are elderly or infirmed, the workers will help them inside. The building is ADA-compliant. Before anyone can enter, they will be asked to provide their photo identification and medical marijuana card or doctor recommendation.
Counter staff will verify a client’s identification, medical marijuana card or doctor recommendation with a statewide database. After verification, the client will be allowed to enter into the actual dispensary where another employee will greet them.
“It’s not a store but an educational center,” said Burke. The client will be assessed and guided to what cannabinoid product would best fit their situation. Products may include smokables, edibles, tinctures and oils.
After the transaction is complete, staff will be available to escort the client to their vehicle.
Lewis-Blodgett, president of Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine — the nonprofit that will operate the dispensary — says she is more excited than nervous about opening. “I don’t anticipate any problems but I know it’s a possibility,” she said.
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