Medical Cannabis Flies off the Shelves as Dispensaries Open in Montgomery County

Potomac Holistics sells out of some products, RISE Bethesda reports a couple hundred customers


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Staff members at RISE Bethesda were preparing on Friday to open the next day.

Bethany Rodgers

Within its first 15 hours of selling medical cannabis, Potomac Holistics was already completely out of marijuana buds, owner William Askinazi said Monday.

“We had lines out the door and down the hallways,” Askinazi said of Friday’s opening.

After running out of the marijuana buds, the dispensary off Darnestown Road in the Shady Grove medical district had to close Sunday and Monday.

RISE Bethesda, the second dispensary to begin selling medical cannabis in Montgomery County, reported a turnout of a couple hundred customers when it opened Saturday.

Rebecca Brown, one of RISE Bethesda’s owners, said Monday that the shop inside Wildwood Medical Center ran out of some cannabis strains, but continued selling other products through the weekend. She expects that more products will arrive this week and that RISE Bethesda has enough in stock to continue serving customers until then.

The state’s new medical marijuana program has been years in development. The state’s medical marijuana commission started approving final dispensary licenses earlier this year, and in the months since then, the businesses have been on hold for the first batch of cannabis to arrive from the growers.

Askinazi said Potomac Holistics last week got a delivery of about 4 pounds of marijuana buds across five different strains. Brown wouldn’t say how much product RISE Bethesda received.

Employees at RISE Bethesda in the Wildwood Medical Center were busy stocking display cases and shelves on Friday, before the store's Saturday opening. Credit: Bethany Rodgers.

Both dispensaries decided to ration the product to serve as many customers as possible. Potomac Holistics set an initial limit of one-eighth of an ounce of the cannabis flower, and RISE Bethesda capped purchases at a quarter of an ounce. Wait times for customers at RISE Bethesda averaged an hour.

Askinazi described a buoyant mood among customers at Potomac Holistics, despite the lines. 

“The crowd was amazing. They were enthusiastic and were singing songs and passing around pizza,” he said.

Askinazi said another shipment of marijuana product should arrive sometime this week, but Potomac Holistics planned to reopen Tuesday offering tablets and elixirs.

Across the state, the availability of medical cannabis is still limited. The first round of medicinal marijuana came from a single grower, Curio Cultivation in Baltimore County, and the dispensaries anticipate a sufficient supply as more growers begin releasing product.

Other medical marijuana shops are also getting ready to launch. RISE Silver Spring, a dispensary affiliated with RISE Bethesda, should be opening in the next couple of weeks, Brown said.

Many dispensaries across the state are still waiting for the state to award them licenses. The state commission is issuing two dispensary licenses inside each Maryland legislative district.

The other companies that have received preapproval to open dispensaries in Montgomery County but haven’t gotten final permission are:

  • Earthgroup Inc. (District 14)
  • Herbiculture Inc. (District 14)
  • Mikran LLC (District 15)
  • Budding Rose LLC (District 16)
  • Peake ReLeaf LLC (District 17)
  • Sugarloaf Enterprises (District 17)
  • Columbia Care MD LLC (District 18)
  • PharmaCann LLC (District 18)
  • Maryland Alternative Relief (District 19)
  • Premium Medicine of Maryland LLC (District 19)
  • Maryland Medical Cannabis Co. LLC (District 20)
  • MaryLeaf LLC (District 39)
  • MI Dispensary (District 39)

Their preapprovals do not say where the companies’ shops will be.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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