New England Treatment Access reports serving 100 to 150 patients daily at Northampton dispensary

Last modified: Saturday, October 03, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — New England Treatment Access celebrated the grand opening of its Northampton dispensary with Mayor David Narkewicz on Friday after a full week of serving patients. The facility is the first registered medical marijuana facility opened in western Massachusetts.

The celebration included remarks by Narkewicz, patient Michelle Kaskey, New England Treatment Access Executive Director Arnon Vered and Leslie Laurie, NETA’s regional director.

City officials who attended included Police Chief Jody Kasper, Fire Chief Duane Nichols, and members of the Board of Health, Senior Services and planning department. The presence of so many officials demonstrates the relationship between the dispensary and the city, Narkewicz said.

The dispensary served between 100 and 150 people with their medication each day this week, according to New England Treatment Access spokesman and consultant Norton Arbelaez.

The Northampton dispensary at 118 Conz St. is the first to offer non-flower products, or forms of marijuana that are not smoked. The most bought non-flower item — and second most-bought product overall — was the Rempen cartridges. Patients use the medication from a smokeless, pen-like device with their chosen oil.

Vered said, “This is our message — medical marijuana is a legitimate medicine.”

Vered emphasized that while medical marijuana does not cure everything, it is a safe alternative to opiates

With Northampton’s history of being at the “forefront of patients’ rights,” including efforts such as needle exchange, rapid HIV testing and providing Narcan to reverse opioid overdoses, it is fitting that the city hosts the first medical marijuana dispensary in western Massachusetts, according to Laurie.

“We make sure people receive their medical care no matter the political pushback,” Laurie said.

Kaskey, a patient and advanced practice psychiatric nurse said, “I want to thank NETA and Northampton for making it possible for me to get the medicine I need in a way that is safe, reliable and legal.”

The dispensary’s contribution to the local economy was highlighted by NETA officials and the mayor throughout the celebration. New England Treatment Access has so far created 100 jobs statewide. There are currently 20 employees at the Northampton dispensary, and NETA seeks to increase that to 25.

“NETA has (played a significant role) in the Pleasant Street revisioning,” Narkewicz said.

And according to the dispensary, it is already making a difference in the lives of the people it serves.

“Patients are already sleeping much better while others tell us that the relief from pain allows them to be more present with their children and grandchildren,” Vered said. “Together, we are making history one patient at a time.”


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