The first store in a national medical marijuana retail chain has opened in Woodlawn

The Botanist, the first store in a planned national retail chain dispensing medical marijuana, opened Monday in Woodlawn.

The store at 7175 Security Blvd. will serve as the flagship site for a retail brand that owner Acreage Holdings plans to expand to 40 locations in several states by next year. Acreage, a cannabis operator founded in 2014 as High Street Capital Partners, runs growing, processing and dispensing facilities in 14 states. Former U.S. House speaker John Boehner serves on its board.

The stores will emphasize customer education and be designed to look like 19th century botanist labs and greenhouses, said Harris Damashek, chief marketing officer of Acreage.

“Our goal is to deliver safe, reliable, consistent cannabis product to consumers,” Damashek said. “The Botanist is one of the first big initiatives to … create a consumer-focused lifestyle brand around cannabis.”

The store plans to offer free seminars on topic such as how to cook with marijuana and use it to treat medical conditions.

When the company began creating the store concept, “we quickly realized the things that are the hallmark of all the retail stores we know and love was nonexistent when it came to the cannabis category,” Damashek said. The store “needs to embrace the consumer and give them more than a place to buy product. … Consumers new to this category may have trepidation about entering a dispensary.”

Acreage plans to open stores in states that allow medical or recreational use and sell a branded line of cannabis products, including vape pens and beverages. Edible forms of marijuana are not permitted in Maryland.

Customers must register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission and get a recommendation from a doctor. The Botanist staff will review medical history. Treatments are typically available for conditions such as seizures, chronic pain or glaucoma.

Botanist stores will include new locations as well as Acreage’s 30 existing dispensaries in Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire and Oregon. Those stores will be rebranded.

Maryland’s first dispensaries began opening around the state late last year, while the first in Baltimore opened in February.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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