PLYMOUTH – In a brightly lit room that looked like a cross between a cookery kitchen and a science lab, Triple M’s processing manager took care of the machines while they made the offerings that were soon to be launched in two new medical marijuana dispensaries .
Triple M, formerly known as Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, rents a 46,000-square-foot building in Plymouth Industrial Park that grows, processes and is about to sell marijuana.
This Collins Avenue pharmacy opens Thursday and turns 20th in the state. The opening times are initially Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., by appointment only.
In Mashpee, a pharmacy – the first in the Cape and Islands and the 21st in the state – will open on Echo Road by the end of the month, initially for the same hours, selling Plymouth products daily.
Registered cardholders can choose from five types of medical marijuana in the two pharmacies, which they can smoke, vape, take in capsules or tinctures, or apply as a lotion. The list includes Blue Dream, Gorilla Glue, Tardis Nine, Cannatonic, White Rhino, and Green Daddy Purple.
“We stayed away from edibles,” said Jonathan Herlihy, co-founder and CEO of Triple M. Dosing edibles can be difficult.
“We have capsules and tinctures that are dosed very precisely,” he said.
He and Lianne Ankner, Co-Founder, General Counsel and Director of Compliance of Triple M, gave the Times a tour of the cultivation center, processing rooms and pharmacy in Plymouth on Wednesday.
There the workers started growing marijuana in four rooms in August and have so far harvested several thousand plants, the components of which are then dried, pruned and processed into various offers in the adjacent processing rooms.
The lighting for the various stages of growth and flowering is automatically controlled in the growing areas to give the plants sufficient time to mature before flowering.
Ankner said about 300 plants will be used for the research. “We’re looking for the Holy Grail: THCB,” she said. THC provides the “high”.
“The B would be an appetite suppressant,” said Ankner.
In the grow rooms where the plants start, the lights are on for 18 hours and off for six hours. The light in the flower rooms is on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours.
After six to eight weeks in the flowering room, the marijuana is ready to be harvested. The flowers are broken into large pieces and individually hung to dry for seven to ten days.
“You can’t do it too fast or too slow,” said Ethan A., a master breeder who was working in the exercise room on the day of the tour. “Otherwise you could lose the flower or it could go moldy.”
Herlihy requested that employees not previously interviewed should only be identified by their first name.
As soon as leaves and other components are trimmed, the cut is packed in bags and brought to the product room. There you can breathe in the aroma of each variety. Gorilla Glue was strong and pungent, while Tardis had a grape-like odor. Cannatonic was fruity with a hint of anise.
“It’s very much like wine,” says Ethan, who enjoys his job. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”
The processing room is supervised by Keith Tibbetts. Machines line the walls and perform automated functions, from producing thick, strain-specific cannabis oil for marijuana-infused products to filling small bottles of tincture and packing high-quality cannabis in pre-rolled “joints”.
The machine that compresses cannabis into cones produces 100 “prerolls” at a time.
“I can easily make 1,000 a day,” said Tibbetts.
One area of the room is dominated by a six-foot-high mechanical apparatus that Tibbetts designed to pull resin from marijuana buds.
“First you crush the cannabis in a manual press and then put it in a parchment envelope,” he explained. The envelope is placed between two heated plates on the large machine.
Tibbetts then controls the pressure manually using a lever.
“It takes a sure instinct,” he said. “The pressure cannot be too much or too little. The heat shouldn’t be too much or too little. “
With the right combination, the pressure pulls out the resin. The product is sold as a concentrate.
“No chemicals, just pressure,” said Tibbetts. “There is craft.”
The huge press is crowned by two elongated light bulbs. When asked about its purpose, Tibbetts replied, “They remind me to turn it off when I go.”
Customer access is limited to the medical marijuana dispensary.
To get to the reception area, a customer must present a medical marijuana card issued by the State Department of Health – first for the guard at the entrance to the parking lot and again right outside the building to hum him in.
The waiting room looks a lot like a doctor’s office, though the pungent, distinctive aroma of marijuana is noticeable.
Cardholders can meet with a medical marijuana specialist before entering the sales area for information about which products are best for their conditions.
Since reactions to marijuana are different, the rule is, “Start low, go slow,” Herlihy said.
“I think most people will come and know what they want,” he said.
In the sales room, samples of the various products offered for sale are displayed in showcases.
Connoisseurs looking to buy marijuana buds can see the strain they’re interested in by taking a sample in a clear plastic jar, Ankner said. Tiny holes allow the prospect to inhale the aroma, and a magnifying glass embedded in the lid allows a close look at the buds.
When the products are sold, they are removed from locked cabinets. About 80 percent are cash sales.
Customers can access their accounts at ATMs outside the pharmacies. According to Ankner, anyone who wants to use their debit account would use the CannaPay system via a telephone app.
It’s hard to say how many customers the two pharmacies will attract as medical marijuana cardholders from Plymouth and the Cape and Islands have become accustomed to traveling to any of the other 19 pharmacies open in the state.
Mashpee and Plymouth have signed hosting agreements with Triple M to receive $ 20,000 in 2016, $ 40,000 in 2017, and $ 100,000 in 2018. Thereafter, the payment is increased by 3 percent each year. The cities also benefit from property taxes and grants.
Although Triple M will limit its operations to medical marijuana in Mashpee, Herlihy said the company will apply for a recreational license when it becomes available in April.
He plans to grow marijuana for a Triple M retail store in Plymouth as well as other retailers.
– Follow Christine Read on Twitter: @ChrisLegereCCT.