Merida portfolio company Dharma Pharmaceuticals is now the first dispensary in Commonwealth to provide medical marijuana to patients, having opened to registered patients on October 17. Currently located in the old JC Penny space at the old Bristol, Virginia mall, Dharma is one of four pharmaceutical processors approved in the State of Virginia to produce medical marijuana.
Dharma is the first of five companies permitted by The Virginia Board of Pharmacy to dispense medical marijuana.
"It's a monumental day for Dharma," said chief operating officer, Jack Page. "We've been working two years for this. In January we will be able to have five off-site locations throughout our health services locations, which reaches all the way up to Danville, up to Amherst, and back down to Lee County."
Dharma will continue its medical marijuana operations at the Bristol mall until a new location in Washington County passes inspections from the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.
"We are eager to provide a new treatment option to Virginia patients and also provide jobs and economic growth within our community," says Dharma Pharmaceuticals Co-Founder and CEO, Shanna Berry. "This has been a long process to build out a facility, grow cannabis plants from seed, process and extract the cannabis oils, and finally have product ready for patients. As a lifelong resident of Southwest Virginia, I am thrilled to bring this life-changing medicine to our state and provide much needed jobs in our community."
Berry has waited ten years for the climate in Virginia to shift to allow for medical cannabis and the start of Dharma Pharmaceuticals. She is joined by her co-founders Page and Michael Johnson, who is Dharma’s Chief Pharmacy Officer and has 27 years of Virginia pharmacy experience.
"Each patient seeking medical cannabis is unique, and I look forward to cultivating relationships with them to develop treatment plans customized for their individual needs." Page says, "Dharma Pharmaceuticals is truly a homegrown effort led by local business professionals with a passion for our community and helping patients gain access to medical cannabis. We are the first to produce and sell medical cannabis to Virginians thanks to every member of our team."
Merida Capital Partners is the largest investor in Dharma Pharmaceuticals. Merida’s Mitch Baruchowitz, Kevin Gibbs and Colin Kelley have provided critical infrastructure and operational guidance to launch the operation. While Dharma was the last company to go live in Virginia, it is the first to produce and sell medicine to patients.
"The Dharma Pharmaceuticals team has been an amazing partner of ours,” says Gibbs. “We worked relentlessly this year with Shanna, Jack and Michael to launch this company and bring medicine to Virginia. We look forward to helping patients throughout the Commonwealth get safe access to medical cannabis."
Click here to watch News 5 WCYB coverage of Dharma’s grand opening, and the impact of medical marijuana availability on local residents in need.