This orange storefront sign that simply says “Be” gives no hint of what’s inside. That’s by design.
Staten Island’s first medical marijuana dispensary is working hard to blend into the surrounding community.
“We finally feel we’re in the right place now,” said David Palmieri, VP of Programs.
Plans to open the island’s first dispensary began six years ago, after Governor Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act legalizing medical marijuana.
After winning a bid to become one of 10 dispensaries in the state, Be had hoped to quickly open in the borough.
But the company had a hard time securing a location near mass transit and being accessible for the 2,600 authorized medical marijuana patients in the borough who now must travel off-island to get their prescriptions filled.
Then Be faced questions from residents who feared marijuana from the dispensary could get into the wrong hands.
“The state has taken lots of requirements to make sure that that doesn’t happen. To come into a dispensary you have to be of age; you can’t come in here as a young person, you can’t be buying any product without being registered with the state,” said Dr, Jack D’Angelo, State Medical Officer, Be.
For the last several years, the dispensary has been meeting with civic groups, with the community board and with the NYPD hoping to use education as a way to win over those who have concerns about them being here.
Medical marijuana can only be prescribed for one of 14 illnesses and patients need a medical marijuana card and a prescription to obtain it.
It cannot be sold in smoke-able form. Only products like pills, oils and vaporizers will be available here.
The products will be locked up and continuously monitored by security cameras.
“It’s an industry now and a regulated industry is an industry that keeps the community safe,” said D’Angelo.
Be says it will be a good neighbor, and says if recreational marijuana is eventually legalized in the state, it will be ready to throw its hat in the ring as dispensary for that, too.
Its new home has plenty of space to expand.