STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — While curious pedestrians peeked through a storefront window of CITIVA Brooklyn on a recent Wednesday afternoon, a woman over the age of 70 accompanied by a nurse entered the medical marijuana dispensary.
Of the 30 or 40 patients the dispensary serves each day, many are senior citizens — and many are traveling from Staten Island to the facility in the heart of Brooklyn.
“I love helping people,” said Thomas Winter, vice president of northeast operations, who entered the company with a background in business operations. “When I did my own research on the medical benefits of cannabis … I just wanted to be a part of it.”
In November, CITIVA New York will have a more convenient option for Staten Islanders. The company is set to open its third location in New Dorp. The retail space will look and operate like the one in Brooklyn.
With a prescription from a doctor for ailments including PTSD, epilepsy, chronic pain and cancer, customers are eligible to purchase THC and CBD oils for vaping, capsules or tinctures to mix with beverages.
CBD and THC are elements extracted from the cannabis plant; each has properties that have proven to be beneficial for several mental and physical issues.
While CBD derived from a variety of a marijuana plant called hemp is legal, CBD from marijuana plants that produce flowers and are high in THC are illegal for recreational use. Legal CBD products are on display in CITIVA Brooklyn’s showroom while the regulated CBD is kept in the back.
Staff members say they pride themselves on educating customers about what type of product would benefit them the most via digital questionnaires when they first enter and face-to-face consultations with the pharmacist on duty.
REPLACING TRADITIONAL MEDS WITH MARIJUANA
Several customers at CITIVA have spoken about reducing the use of painkillers such as gabapentin and opioid-based products with medical marijuana, store pharmacist Nelson Cuevas said.
“They’re not totally off of [painkillers], but they reduce the amount they take daily,” said Cuevas. “So they’ll end up at the end of the month with a half a bottle of pills, whereas before they were on cannabis therapy, they were actually a couple days early needing a refill.”
Cuevas previously worked at a traditional pharmacy, where he said it could be difficult to fill prescriptions for drugs that could have addictive and health-concerning side-effects.
“Compared to a regular pharmacy, where people would come in for refills and they’re not happy and don’t want to get a refill, but they know they have to take the medication … here they come in happy to get their medication.”
PRICE POINTS AND DELIVERY
Price points can range from $30 capsules to $165 for a pre-filled oil cartridge. The amount of product, brand and method of use all factor into the price.
Insurance companies do not cover marijuana products since it is illegal under federal laws.
Delivery began Monday, allowing customers to place orders via an app.
“We’ll be able to deliver to people at their home, so we’re kind of excited about that,” he said.
For Staten Island residents currently prescribed medical marijuana or interested in pursuing a medical card, a full menu of CITIVA’s products is available online.