November 24, 2020

Growing Forward: A trip to a dispensary and manufacturing facility

In this week’s episode of Growing Forward, we took a field trip. 

Co-host Megan Kamerick and I visited both a dispensary and a cannabis manufacturing facility to learn more about how medical cannabis patients in New Mexico get their medicine and to learn about some extraction processes. 

Our first stop was to R. Greenleaf in Albuquerque. Our tour guide was Dominic Garcia, the director of retail operations for the dispensary’s management company Reynold Greenleaf and Associates. Garcia said the dispensary runs on a pharmacy model where the cannabis is dispensed from a window behind the counter. 

Garcia said employees are not licensed medical providers but can still help new patients navigate the many different varieties of cannabis and many different methods of consuming it.   

“A lot of times also the peer educator will ask about what their ailment is and then from there, they can help educate them from a point of also being a patient,” Garcia said. 

From there, Megan and I went to Mountain Top Extracts, also in Albuquerque. 

Eric Merryman is part owner, along with his wife Jennifer, of the manufacturing company. Eric said he started the business after he helped his ailing mother find ways to combat the symptoms of cancer. Eventually, Eric and Jennifer were licensed by the state to make cannabis extracts and derivatives. But, Eric told us how the state’s licensing structure can make business difficult at times. 

The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program issues separate licenses for manufacturers, cultivators and couriers. But Eric and Jennifer only have their manufacturing license and the state is not issuing production, or cultivation, licenses right now. That means Mountain Top has to obtain plant material from a licensed producer, make the edibles or derivatives and then send it back to the producer to sell. That means companies like Mountain Top generally cannot experiment with new products, nor can they sell directly to patients. 

But more importantly, Eric said, companies like Mountain Top cannot know for sure what sort of pesticides or other chemicals were used to grow the plants that go into Mountain Top’s products.    

“Unfortunately, we have zero control over what they’re using on their plants or what they’re communicating with us in regards to the cultivation and or treatment in those plants,” Eric said. 

Give this week’s episode a listen to hear all of the other topics we discussed. You can find this week’s episode, as well as previous episodes, below. Or you can search for Growing Forward wherever you normally listen to podcasts. Growing Forward is a collaboration between New Mexico PBS and New Mexico Political Report, thanks to a grant from the New Mexico Local News Fund.