First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Capital Region

There's not a whole lot to see at 402 North Pearl Street -- and that's the point. A low-profile appearance is one of many strict regulations that medical marijuana dispensaries have to follow.

On Thursday afternoon, Etain opened for business in the warehouse district of Albany for the first time. The first medical marijuana company to start selling its products in the Capital Region is a three-person team made up of a mother and her two daughters. Hillary Peckham, 24, is the COO. 

"This is something that was previously illegal and now is legal," Peckham said, "so you want them to feel like they're not breaking the law when they come here."

When medical marijuana became legal in New York, strict regulations came with it. Those regulations can be seen in the forms Etain is allowed to sell the drug. It comes out of droppers, vape pens, capsules and sprays.

Another regulation is seen in the separate rooms you have to walk through before you get to the pharmacist, Kevin King.

"There are several barriers," King said. "I feel a little bit like I'm in a box, but we were trying to make it feel very inviting, very comfortable. We don't want people to be afraid to come in. We're here to help."

Before a patient gets to King, they have to show the person at the front desk their medical marijuana certification and ID card, and a recommendation from a doctor.

According to the state's Department of Health, New York has 51 patients certified by doctors, and 161 doctors are registered to certify medical marijuana. The DOH still hasn't released a list of those certified doctors.

Along with the strict regulations, the business operates differently because the drug is federally illegal. Dispensaries have to deal in all cash, and patients can't use insurance to cover bills that range from $300 to $1,200 a month.

"It's something we're fully aware of," Peckham said. "We work around it and I think it will change eventually."

Etain will be open from 2:30-6 p.m. from Monday to Friday. 

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