|Photo: Walter Hinick/Montana Standard|
|Glenn Erickson, MedMar: “We wanted to provide a safe, secure atmosphere”|
One of Montana’s largest single-location retailers of cigarettes is now selling something else to smoke. But you need to be a registered patient to buy it.
Glenn Erickson at Gilligan’s Tobacco Shop has opened MarMed of Montana on the second floor of his store in Butte, reports Tim Trainor at The Montana Standard.
Before adding marijuana to his smokables, Erickson, 55, met with Butte-Silver Bow law enforcement and the county attorney’s office, making sure he was doing nothing illegal and was operating within the law.
“From a business standpoint, there are a lot of unknowns,” said Erickson, who has operated the tobacco shop for 12 years. “Let’s be honest; there is a lot that still needs to be cleared up.”
Patients with Montana medical marijuana cards can pick up their cannabis, seek advice, and smoke at MarMed Butte. Any customer with a valid card who specifies MarMed as their designated caregiver under state law can order anything from a single joint to a month’s supply of pot.
A doctor will be on-site at MarMed every two weeks to consult with patients and possibly give medical marijuana recommendations to those who qualify.
Dozens of strains of marijuana are kept behind the bar of the quiet, relaxed business, which is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Patients may step outside onto a deck to smoke marijuana.
“We wanted to provide a safe, secure atmosphere,” Erickson said.
According to Erickson, the same factors that make his tobacco business successful — availability, freshness and prices — are what can make him successful in the medical marijuana business.
“When it comes down to it, it’s a business like any other,” Erickson said.
There are issues, however, that never cropped up until he added marijuana to the menu.
“I’m having a hard time buying insurance,” Erickson said. “No one wants to insure this, which leaves me in a difficult position.”
Erickson said he wants to make sure his plants, of which has has more than 600 scattered across the state, are safely hidden. He wants his employees and patients to feel safe and secure in the store, and he wants to protect the privacy of his customers.
The eventual goal, according to Erickson, is for MarMed to have franchises all over Montana.
“I don’t see why not, to have a well-known, well-respected chain of places people can come in and know what to expect,” Erickson said.
Medical marijuana is here to stay in Montana, according to Erickson — and he thinks that is a good thing.
“I’ve seen a cloud of darkness shift away from people that were stuck underground,” he said. “These people had social issues, physical issues, but the stigma of being a marijuana user is going away.”