Dominic Cucina – First I want to thank you for having me to discuss the cannabis industry. I grew up in Cockeysville (Baltimore County), and about 5 years ago my wife and I decided that we wanted a change of scenery, and we wanted to get involved in the Cannabis Industry. We packed our bags and moved to Colorado, and both got jobs working at a dispensary in a recreational/medical market. I spent 2 years working as a budtender on both the medical and recreational side, and after 2 years we decided to move back to Maryland once our program started getting off the ground. I ended up helping a dispensary for 2 years once I came back to Maryland, but in April I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to manage The Botanist. Since then, I’ve spent my days with this company doing everything I can to help people in need of relief.
From a personal standpoint, I’ve always had issues with sleep. Cannabis was the first medicine that ever helped me get a full night of sleep without issues, and it made a drastic difference in my everyday life dealing with stress and anxiety. I would have to say my personal “came to medical cannabis” story really happened because of the stories I heard from patients every day at the dispensary. When you’re at your worst, and you find relief, you want to share your story with as many people as possible. One of my favorite benefits of working in cannabis is you get to hear how others are getting the help they need, and you get to be a part of their journey. The number of stories I have from that side of the counter is exactly why I love what I do every day.
One of the biggest things we like to say at The Botanist is that we’re a place where compassion meets community. Our industry is an industry of relationships and relationship building, and we’ve been very fortunate to be embraced by our community even though, as you said, there are a lot of options. I wouldn’t say that Maryland is a crowded market currently, if anything I think we could use more dispensaries, growers, and processors to meet the demands of our market. Our mission itself is a pretty simple idea, we are here to help you feel better without feeling some of the negative impacts of modern medicine. Modern medicine obviously has its place, but we are here for those who want to take a more holistic approach to their mental and physical wellness.
In reference to patient first pricing, as I stated we are about relationships. We want you to be able to come to visit, and get the medicine you need at an affordable price. As the market prices drop and products become more affordable, we will drop with it because it just makes sense to take care of people you’re tasked with helping. We’re here to improve the quality of life for people, and in my opinion that should extend to financial relief from pharma costs.
My biggest love of what we do is really the interaction with customers on a daily basis. People of different ages, backgrounds, religions, races etc. are all just looking for the same thing, relief from their ailments and people to connect with. In our own way, we get to help people every day, and personally being able to help is one of my biggest joys of my career. Getting to know the people in my community has been gratifying, educational, and truly a privilege.
When thinking about the most challenging parts of the job, the main one would be running a shop from a day-to-day basis, due to current regulations set in Maryland. There’s a lot more behind the scenes procedure than people realize when thinking about managing every day. Our commitment to doing things the right way won’t change, but I think as the industry grows and cannabis use becomes more public, I think we’ll see a more relaxed environment.
Another challenge I’ve noticed is just the resources necessary to open a dispensary/grow/processor. I do look forward to the day where the procedures are much easier, so we can see more small businesses get a chance to get involved, too much big business can harm the market more than help it.
I’m more of an indica guy personally, so strains like Ray Charles, Ghost of the Mujahadeen, and Bubba Kush are usually what I would go for with flower. I prefer bongs and glass pipes for smoking, and for concentrates I prefer Live Resin. Having all of the original properties of the plant (terpenes, THCa/THC etc.) is something that Live Resin offers that most concentrates don’t.
MC - What are your thoughts on the near future of medical cannabis in Maryland? Recreational soon?
I think the potential for growth in Maryland is massive, if we do it correctly. As I stated earlier, there is a challenge for small businesses to get involved currently, but I think the expansion of the market will allow for all of us to thrive. I truly hope adult use/recreational does come to Maryland soon for many reasons. It usually leads to a drop in medical cannabis pricing, the tax revenues could go a long way to helping fix problems in the state, and the state can’t always keep up with the ailments that cannabis helps. Having a recreational market will allow those who don’t necessarily qualify under current regulations to have an option of relief without turning to pharmaceuticals that they don’t want to take.
Serving the greater Baltimore area, The Botanist is a unique medical cannabis dispensary rooted in education, community, and experience. Our dispensaries offer the best deli-style flower, pre-rolls, concentrates, topicals, capsules, vapes, cartridges, tinctures, and more.