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As the medical marijuana industry continues to grow, so does the need for the people who work at the dispensaries to really know their cannabis.

When Mariellen Jurkovich (photo below) first started working at the Humboldt Patient Resource Center in Arcata, California, eight years ago, she said the dispensary only provided certain strains of cannabis that were easy to grow. Now, the director says that they are offering patients a wide variety of items, including tinctures, salves and edibles.

The general manager of the dispensary, Bryan Willkomm (photo below), said the staff tends to get a lot of questions from patients who are younger. When looking at edibles, they want to know about any dietary restrictions, sugar content, allergies and specific dosing information. As opposed to older patients, who might simply smell a plant and choose, Willkomm said younger patients are asking for cannabinoid and terpene profile analysis, and asking questions such as whether the cannabis has high levels of limonene or myrcene.

brian wilcom

These are also the patients who often ask for alternative treatment, such as the salves. Willkomm noted that two years ago when he began working at the dispensary, there were only 15 products available. He said,

“We have over 300 products now.”

People who work at a medical marijuana dispensary have to wear the hats of many, including researcher, pharmacist and even physician. Due to legal restrictions, however, researchers are limited in the work they can do to learn more about the medical benefits of cannabis. Marijuana is still viewed as a Schedule I substance under federal law. Willkomm said that in order to share information with patients, the California dispensary workers are meeting with Israeli physicians in Oregon.

The dispensary sees many patients who are treating terminal conditions, according to Jurkovich. It offers reduced-price and free products through its compassion program, which serves people who are seriously or terminally ill.

Jurkovich (photo below) intended to create a holistic environment for patients by providing a dispensary alongside a wellness center. Unfortunately, the wellness facility was only open a year before she found that pursuing permits for both operations was too expensive.

marlene Jurkovic

However, she still believes in providing comprehensive services. She has trained staff to better treat patients and pays her employees to participate in educational conferences and workshops.

Further, the Humboldt Patient Resource Center is a learning center, approved by Humboldt State University. Students are able to visit and learn about the operation, and staff are encouraged to learn more about cannabis. Jurkovich said:

“It’s not basic anymore. We’re constantly on the computer, doing research, buying books. It’s really kind of exciting.”

And the dispensary workers are tested on their knowledge. The facility was just reviewed and passed a Clean Green Certification. During the process, an inspector asked staff to trace a product from the shelf back to processing, inventory and the garden where the cannabis got its start.

Willkomm said that having an unbiased third party evaluate the facility adds legitimacy to the operation. Wilkomm says,

“What that does is just shows we’re transparent.”

photo credit: lostcoastoutpost

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