Pot luck! Boro’s first medical-marijuana dispensary opens for eligible patients

Pot luck! Boro’s first medical-marijuana dispensary opens for eligible patients
Photo by Colin Mixson

It’s high time!

Brooklyn’s first medical-marijuana dispensary opened across the street from the Barclays Center on Dec. 30, officially starting the sales of legal, weed-based remedies in the borough, according to a spokeswoman for the facility.

Qualifying patients registered with the state’s Department of Health will find the shelves at Citiva stocked with reefer-derived oils, vape pens, pills, and even topical salves designed to instantly soothe sore muscles, according to the company’s president Michael Quattrone.

The strains of medicinal pot sold at the facility are bred to produce a variety of effects, with some causing highs more physical than psychological, Quattrone said.

But customers who visit the store at 202 Flatbush Ave. between Dean and Bergen streets cannot purchase their Mary Jane as a plant or any wacky tobacky–infused edibles at the pot pharmacy, which is prohibited from hawking anything someone can light up and smoke under the medical-marijuana program state legislators enacted in 2014.

Customers must present their state-issued medical-marijuana cards to employees before entering the dispensary on the Park Slope–Prospect Heights border, which Quattrone described as more day spa than a smoke shop.

“We were kind of going for a modern-day apothecary with a Brooklyn vibe,” he said.

New York State’s medical-marijuana policy is much stricter than those of other states, and qualifying patients must suffer from diseases on a short list of debilitating illnesses — which include AIDS, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic-stress disorder, inflammatory-bowel disease, and Parkinson’s disease — or be diagnosed with chronic pain.

The more than 100 borough physicians trained and certified to prescribe medicinal weed can also do so in lieu of prescribing opioids, which caused roughly 1,075 of the city’s 1,300 drug-overdose deaths in 2016, data shows, but are less deadly in states with medical-cannabis programs, according to the state Health Department.

But those Brooklynites sick enough to qualify for medical marijuana may find the drug too expensive to afford, because insurance companies will not foot the bill for it as long as weed remains illegal under federal law, forcing patients to pay out of pocket for pot-based pain relievers.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Weed-oil salesmen: Citiva offers various cannabis-based products, including oils, pills, and topical salves, which patients will find tucked under shelves stocked with carefully curated knickknacks.
Photo by Brad DeCecco