After about two years of going through the complex licensing process with the town and the state and renovation of the space, Natural Selections, Watertown’s first medical marijuana dispensary at 23 Elm St., is preparing to open its doors to the public soon. The facility is just waiting for approval to commence operations from the state.
The business was founded by Newton native Aidan O’Donovan and Colorado native Brandon Banks in Colorado in early 2015. Tyler Vines, director of retail, has been with the company since it opened its first location in Colorado.
Customers of Natural Selections must have a Massachusetts patient identification card. To obtain a card, patients must first get certified from a physician registered with the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program who will certify if you suffer from a qualifying medical condition. Qualifying conditions include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s certifying physician. Visit massciportal.com to learn more about how to obtain a patient identification card.
General Manager Caitlyn Woodward-Samson said there is a thorough process the company will follow with every customer. When people come in to talk about their cannabis journey, the staff will ask a lot of questions.
“It’s patient specific. We don’t talk about cannabis as a whole, we really want to treat the patient. It’s different strokes for different folks here. We make sure you leave with exactly what you’re looking for with the desired outcome that you want to achieve,” said Woodward-Samson.
All of the employees are extensively trained. Natural Selections sells 12 different strains of the flower. Each one is a little different. Other products include lotions, topicals, transthermal patches, concentrates, pre-rolls, disposables, fills and edibles.
Natural Selections is also in the process of opening a state-of-the-art cultivation facility in Fitchburg which will also have its own dispensary called, Ethos.
“We will be producing all of our own flower with some high-end genetics that we’ve cultivated and worked with and bred with our growers here the last few years. We’re really excited to introduce some new strains into the Massachusetts market that aren’t currently here. Eventually, we’ll have our own concentrates and our own edibles. To start, we will just have the flower,” said Vines.
Chief Operating Officer Alex Hardy said the Watertown location is exactly what the company was looking for.
“It’s accessible to patients from all over the area. We’re right at the meeting point of Newton, Boston, Brighton, Cambridge and Watertown. Being the first and only medical dispensary in Watertown, this is a huge opportunity for the folks around here and for us to provide product to them,” said Hardy.
Hardy said the Elm Street location also appealed to the company because of its ample parking. The site has 22 spaces for customers.
Hardy said the dispensary would have been open now if it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic. It caused about a two-month delay. The company had to lay out the space to accommodate operating in a COVID-19 environment. Everyone is required to wear a mask. Spaces 6 feet apart are marked throughout and plastic barriers were installed ot make sure everyone is protected.
“I think it is possible to operate safely in this environment and we’re set up to do it,” said Hardy.
The host agreement between Natural Selections and the town of Watertown was signed in November 2019. The agreement states Natural Selections will pay an annual Community Impact Fee of 3% of the facility’s gross sales.
For more information, visit NaturalSelectionsMA.com.