The Security

There are some interesting security challenges to protecting a marijuana-growing facility.

For instance, organizers had to arrange for the purchase of two hypoallergenic German shepherds, at a cost of $50,000 each, as pet dander could contaminate the plants, said William Thomas, the foundation president.

The warehouse will have only two entrances, cameras throughout the facility, two guards, facial recognition software and key card access, security worthy of a casino, Thomas said.

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The Plants

The plants themselves were genetically altered to decrease Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that causes marijuana’s psychotropic effects, and increase Cannabidiol, or CBD, the component that relieves anxiety, nausea and pain.

“You get all of the good effects without the bad liver and the addictive qualities. And you can still function on it,” Thomas said, noting that it produces a much milder buzz than prescription pain reliever Oxycontin.

The plants had to be imported from Spain because marijuana’s U.S. legal status has halted legal research here for decades. They will grow in smaller rooms where contaminants can be isolated and light adjusted for the three different strains being grown. When ready, they’ll be blended together to ensure a consistent product.

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The Pick-up

The average person won’t know the facility is there.

Patients who are certified to use marijuana must first obtain a prescription from a state-designated doctor. That doctor will notify the dispensary and the dispensary will contact the patient with information about cost and the pick-up.

A nurse there will discuss the treatment and the transaction. Only the nurse has access to the refrigerated safe that contains the drugs.

“The nurse has to put (a) thumb into it and the safe dispenses the drugs like an ATM,” Thomas said.