New Plattsburgh dispensary leads to growth of marijuana patients

Published: Sep. 21, 2018 at 5:13 PM EDT
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The number of patients using medical marijuana in New York's North Country has more than doubled over the last few months since a new dispensary operator opened its doors in Plattsburgh this spring. Kelly O'Brien went to the Curaleaf facility to find out why.

Fred Winchell suffers from chronic pain. "No matter what I'm doing, whether I am laying in bed or out enjoying myself, you can just get that pain where it feels like your knee is either going to lock or give out on you, and sleeping is the big one," Winchell said.

After learning he would need another knee surgery, he went to his doctor to figure out how to handle this chronic pain in a more natural way. "It's nice that this is another natural component that can help me internally and mentally," Winchell said.

His doctor recommended he look into medical marijuana, and he has been a faithful user the last three-months, visiting Curaleaf, the state-regulated dispensary in Plattsburgh.

"The vape I do in the morning, when I start to feel uncomfortable or I'm stiff getting up, and then the vape in the evening and the tincture before bed -- CBD tincture before bed," Winchell explained. "Tincture is a drop either under your tongue or in the cheek."

"The previous company that was here was here for two years and had 450 patients in two years," said Kirsten Beizo with Curaleaf.

Beizo says Curaleaf now has surpassed 1,000 patients. That may be in part to the increasing number of conditions for which patients can receive prescriptions, including chronic pain. The staff also works hand-in-hand with local doctors to educate and certify them on the medicine, as well as to educate the public.

"We have a huge presence in the community. We are, you know, constantly doing one-on-one informational sessions all over the North Country, letting people know about medical cannabis, how they can become a medical cannabis patient," Beizo said.

Plattsburgh Police Chief Levi Ritter says they have seen no uptick in crimes related to the medical marijuana dispensary.

Medical marijuana patients Winchell say they still battle a stigma over marijuana use, but he thinks it's becoming more acceptable. "There is a lot of research done and they're starting to open their eyes more to that it's not just a get high drug. There is a lot of medical uses for it and they're not as addictive, not as harmful to the body," he said.