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Medical Marijuana at the Greenbelt Farmers Market!

posted in: Food/Health/Fitness

IMG_0877-001Years after medical marijuana was made legal in Maryland, it’s finally making an appearance – a very public one – in Old Greenbelt.  At the Farmers Market, no less.

These friendly and familiar faces promoting medical marijuana are Greenbelt’s own James Riordon and Martha Heil, a married couple with two kids. James recently left his job with the American Physical Society and now represents the AltPharm  dispensary in Suitland.

I’d followed the progress of the newly legal industry in our state enough to know there have been delays for reasons known and unknown, but now there are about 100 licensed dispensaries in Maryland, of which about 70 are now open, and no new ones are expected to be licensed any time soon.

How it Works

  1. To purchase medical cannabis in Maryland, you first must register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. Qualifying medical conditions include cachexia, anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.
  2. Set up an appointment with a participating physician. If your current doctor doesn’t participate in the program (and most don’t at this point), no problem. Just contact AltPharm for a referral to one of Maryland’s participating participating physicians or physician assistants. (Call 301/456-1432 or email info@altpharm.com.) The cost for the initial intake and prescription is about $100 or more, with yearly renewals costing less.
  3. In about a week you’ll receive a medical cannabis patient number from the Commission.
The cost of the actual marijuana you’ll be buying varies depending on the form of the product and quantity. The least expensive products are usually gram quantities, at $10-$20. Concentrates are more expensive, but you need a lot less to be effective.


Delivery in Greenbelt

James and Martha explained that because Suitland is a bit of a schlep from Greenbelt, AltPharm has arranged with MC Direct to deliver the products right to our homes. You can download the Weedmap app to your phone.

Understanding “Medical Cannabis” vs CBD

Suddenly we’re seeing reports in the media of hundreds of CBD-containing products being sold for myriad medical problems, so how is it different? CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is the nonpsychoactive element in hemp that’s been found to help neurological disorders like epilepsy, and is now being tested for everything from arthritis to anxiety to cancer. It contains little or no THC, which is the high-inducing ingredient.

Since CBD and medical cannabis are being taken for some of the same conditions, I asked Martha, a science writer for the University of Maryland, how they differ. Can you get the same benefits from CBD, without the high or the need for a prescription?

She explained that the benefit of taking in at least some THC along with CBD is the “entourage effect,” meaning that some important compounds in cannabis appear to be more effective when combined with THC. Some people can get relief with CBD alone, but many find that having a little THC, as well, is important. For example, people may opt for “10-to-1” tablets, concentrates, or creams that have ten times as much CBD as THC. They provide very little psychoactive effect from the THC, but much of the physical relief that people often often seek for pain, inflammation, seizures, etc.

This article is helpful, and this one about THC provides an example of the entourage effect: a mostly CBD-based drug used in Canada to treat multiple sclerosis includes THC as an active ingredient.

One Happy Customer

Martha has used medical cannabis for back pain and tells me it’s “like using a regular painkiller. It’s great for cramps too. I’m actually diagnosed with idiopathic seizure disease and cannabis is a recommended treatment for that. I’m still working with my physicians to see if it is effective –  fingers crossed! I have anxiety too, but even though research is showing that cannabinoids can replace opioids in some cases, medical cannabis is not yet prescribed for it. Luckily, research on this is rapidly changing, and the Commission may eventually add anxiety to the list of allowable conditions.”


James, because he works for the medical cannabis industry in Maryland but is not a cannabis patient, must be cannabis-free in the regular tests he’s required to take.

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

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