Somerville's first ever medical marijuana dispensary is pictured in Davis Square. (Shaivi Herur / The Tufts Daily)

Somerville’s first medical marijuana dispensary opens in Davis Square

SAGENATURALS, Somerville’s first medical marijuana dispensary, officially opened on Oct. 27 in Davis Square, according to Michael Dundas, SAGENATURALS’ CEO.

Dundas said that the location already had a promising start.

“The first week has been fantastic, we’ve been serving lots of patients from the local area and just getting to know people in the local area. Davis Square is a great place to work and to live and to be, and so we’re super excited to be here,” Dundas said.

The Somerville dispensary is SAGENATURALS’ second location, with its first store located in Cambridge and its third location in Needham coming soon, according to Dundas.

Dundas explained how other municipalities zone dispensaries on the outskirts of town but that Somerville chose to allow SAGENATURALS to be right alongside other businesses to help professionalize the industry.

“Somerville elected officials took a very conscientious approach to how they wanted to site medical marijuana facilities,” Dundas said. “Somerville took the approach of wanting to site medical marijuana dispensaries in central business districts, which is unusual for municipalities when it comes to cannabis or marijuana.”

Ward 6 Alderman Lance Davis said his constituency, which includes the Davis Square neighborhood, supports medical marijuana.

“Somerville voted overwhelmingly in support of the ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana and the Ward 6 vote was even more one-sided (over 80% voted yes),” Davis told the Daily in an email. “This is clearly a business that is supported by the community and I am glad that people will be able to get their prescriptions filled right here.”

While some residents and community officials have questions about SAGENATURALS’ presence in Davis Square, a comprehensive vetting process allowed community members to meet and discuss any concerns, according to Dundas.

“I certainly hope that we were able to assuage any concerns that were voiced, and I think that at the end of the day everybody agreed that it was going to be a good thing for Davis Square,” Dundas said.

According to Davis, SAGENATURALS presented a detailed plan for security at their site. He said research does not show a link between medical marijuana and crime.

“The data simply does not support any suggestion that crime in areas around medical dispensaries is a particular concern,” Davis said.

Dundas said that the dispensary will accept any members of the Tufts community as patients with the legal documentation.

“Anyone who has a state-approved medical marijuana card can come into SAGENATURALS in Cambridge and in Somerville, and so yes, the answer is a resounding yes,” Dundas said.

Dr. Margaret Higham, medical director of Tufts Health Service, explained that she sees the benefit of prescribing medical marijuana for specialty conditions, but that the Tufts community at large doesn’t have a need for the product.

“I think there’s a small select number of people who I feel would benefit from it. I think that many of the conditions for which [medical marijuana] is particularly well-suited for aren’t things that students are dealing with here at school,” Higham said.

Higham noted that medical marijuana is used to treat those suffering from chronic pain conditions and for the pain associated with cancer treatment, but that she doesn’t see it as something being broadly useful to the Tufts community.

“I don’t see it as something that we’ll be prescribing here at Health Service. If someone has a medical condition that rises to that level of severity, then they’re going to be getting it from their specialty provider, not from us primary care providers,” Higham said.

SAGENATURALS only provides medical marijuana currently, but sales of recreational marijuana might be possible when laws regarding it become more defined, Dundas added.

“I think the recreational program has not yet rolled out, so the rules are still being promulgated. It’s certainly possible that once those rules and regulations are finalized that SAGE could participate in that marketplace, but we’ll make a final determination once we see the actual regulations,” Dundas said.

Dundas added that SAGENATURALS’ focus is being the best provider of high-quality cannabis products in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“SAGE is doing everything that it can to professionalize the medical cannabis space and we very much look forward to being a part of the Davis Square and Somerville communities for years to come,” Dundas said.

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