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2/5/2013 11:49:00 AM
Marijuana dispensary opens doors in Williams
Route 66 Wellness Center currently serves about 12 patients in the Williams area, provides medical marijuana to cancer patients in clinical trial
An employee displays one of the strains of marijuana available to medical marijuana cardholders at the Route 66 Wellness Center dispensary in Williams.  Ryan Williams/WGCN
An employee displays one of the strains of marijuana available to medical marijuana cardholders at the Route 66 Wellness Center dispensary in Williams. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Patricia Wuensche, vice president of Route 66 Wellness Center, stands inside the medical marijuana dispensary. The dispensary opened for business last month.  Ryan Williams/WGCN
Patricia Wuensche, vice president of Route 66 Wellness Center, stands inside the medical marijuana dispensary. The dispensary opened for business last month. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Route 66 Wellness Center, the medical marijuana dispensary in Williams, opened for business Jan. 21 and currently serves about 12 patients.

Patricia Wuensche, vice president of Route 66 Wellness Center located at 341 E. Route 66, said so far things have been quiet at the dispensary.

"We just did a soft opening to kind of let people just slowly start coming in so we can kind of control what's happening, and that way we're not messing with the image of the town, which I know is a huge, huge thing," she said.

Most of the 60 people with medical marijuana cards in the area are growing their own marijuana, Wuensche said.

Cannabis Research Group (CRG), which opened the dispensary, still hasn't determined a cultivation site. The dispensary operates using donations from medical marijuana cardholders, which Arizona allows for the first year the dispensary is open. Once CRG finds a cultivation site, it will take about six months until it is up and running, Wuensche said. At that point, the dispensary will offer edible products.

Three employees work at Route 66 Wellness Center. The dispensary is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. If the volume of customers increases, Wuensche said the dispensary will increase the hours and staff.

Apart from its local customers, Route 66 Wellness Center also supplies medical marijuana to cancer patients who participate in CRG's clinical trials. Nearly 1,000 people who are patients at Desert Springs Cancer Care in Scottsdale also participate in CRG's clinical trial, Wuensche said.

Andy Plattner, an attorney for Desert Springs Cancer Care, said the cancer center itself is not affiliated with the dispensary.

"The reality is, it has no ties and never has had any ties with the dispensary," he said. "It's really important that the record is straightened out here."

Wuensche, a former employee of Desert Springs Cancer Care, said CRG has supplied medical marijuana to participating patients at Desert Springs Cancer Care for 2 1/2 years as part of the clinical trials. The dispensary has a separate delivery system in Phoenix, so those patients will not come to Williams for their medical marijuana.

When a medical marijuana cardholder arrives at the dispensary, they must put their card in a cardholder outside the door. Cameras allow staff to zoom in on the card, and if it is valid, staff will buzz in the patient.

The next step is to run the medical marijuana card through a state verification system to confirm the patient has not already purchased the limit of 2 1/2 ounces of medical marijuana in a two-week period.

Once cleared, patients may look at the products available.

"We have tweezers, they can pick it up, smell it, look at it, choose what they want," Wuensche said. "So they actually get to do everything but smoke the product here so that they know whether it's something that they really want to do."

When the patient has decided what they want, dispensary staff weighs the product and puts it in a medicine bottle with a label containing the patient's identification number, the dispensary information, and the strain of medical marijuana.

"It looks just like a pharmacy label," Wuensche said. "They tried to make it as professional as possible."

Dispensary staff can educate the patients on which strain of medical marijuana to choose.

"There's two main strains, one you take at day time and one at night because one gets you too excited that you can't sleep and the other one gets you too sleepy," Wuensche said. "And then within those two there are hundreds of thousands of strains."

The dispensary has about 12 strains right now, but expects to have about 40 in the near future, depending on patient donations.

The Arizona Department of Health Services requires the dispensary to distribute patient education, including information about the precautions people should take when using medical marijuana and referrals for substance abuse.

Related Stories:
• Williams City Council approves med marijuana dispensary move

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2013
Article comment by: Mending Fences

I am guessing that those of you who oppose this have never tried marijuana..would I be correct? Marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and less dangerous than drugs you get from the pharmacy. It is natures way to help many ailments. Marijuana users are rarely in trouble with the law for domestic voilence, driving under the influence, or other crimes, they are typically very laid back and loving. Don't knock it til you tried it!

Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Article comment by: Ron Pauly

People being allowed to grow they're own pot would have been cheaper for them and allowed them more personal freedom. It should just be legal.

Posted: Friday, May 24, 2013
Article comment by: David Paul-

I can not believe all the negative comments on this article. Sounds like we are attracting small minded, obtuse people to the area. This type of group is on a higher level then god.

Why do I say that: Cause the plant (yes it is a plant) was put on earth by the creative force or some call it GOD. And you as a human, has stated that it is illegal and bad. So therefore you are higher then God on the totem pole.

Let the patients have their medicine!

Posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Article comment by: Not an Option

All of you guys suggesting they go to Flagstaff or elsewhere are completely misunderstanding the situation. The state Health Department drew up "dispensary districts" to reduce the number of people growing their own marijuana for medicinal use. Williams is in its own district, separate from Flagstaff, Ash Fork, Prescott, etc. By law, Williams MUST have a dispensary. If the numbers from last year are still accurate, there are 60 "green card" holders in this district. If there was NO dispensary, each of those 60 card holders could each grow 12 plants each. Then you get into the "caregiver" category which allows others to grow more plants. By law, having this dispensary means that NONE of those 60 people can grow their own plants, nor can any "caregivers" grow either. I would rather have all the marijuana for these 60 people in ONE building where it can be watched closely and legally monitored than have 60 different residents growing it without ANY supervision. We have enough drug dealers in Williams, as evidenced by last week's bust, do you really want 60 more houses with marijuana plants? While I understand the contempt people have for this, you have to understand all the facts and circumstances before you make blind accusations. Unfortunately, both this newspaper and the City Council did not make this clear enough to the public, hence all of the misinformation and misunderstanding of the laws surrounding this dispensary, the reasons for the location and it's approval by the City Council, and what would happen without the dispensary.

Posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Article comment by: Michael McNally

As a visitor too Williams I would not like to see this sort of place in Town. I really don't think this sort of dispensary is good for the city, if medical marijuana is needed it should be left for the Flagstaff Hospital to sort out. Please keep Williams clean for when I return.

Posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Article comment by: Mack Moore

That's right. Lets make it look like everything is just fine and dandy. Stop the fluff and tell it like it is. All this for 12 people. We're not stupid. This is not a goody two shoes operation. Go to Flag or Sedona.

Posted: Monday, May 6, 2013
Article comment by: Fred Thompson

When will people wake up and realize that businesses DO NOT open for 12 people. There is something else happening here and I'm sure it's not good. The Town Council did not have to approve this place for main street. they could have hidden them out on some side road.

Posted: Monday, May 6, 2013
Article comment by: Daniel Hintzmann

We need to vote this eye sore out for the love and welfare of our children. 12 people use this? On historic rt. 66. Disgusting.

Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2013
Article comment by: Billy Buckle

Never have I seen a crime wave occur from marijuana. I'm sure there is reasonable security at this location. I was contemplating on retiring near Williams, and I definitely am now. I'm sure I will have arthritis, or some other pain which will enable me to obtain a medical marijuana permit card. Besides, isn't this good for everyone? The taxes that will be created, the local restaurants will have more business due to the increased appetite. Of course there will be opponents, as this is 'a disaster waiting to happen'. There are 12 customers now, which has probably has increased as I type this.

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: Jarod Sizemore

To "Jarod Dont be Ignorant "

"consilmen" "alchol" "wether" "counsil" Looks like you've already had your share of marijuana...

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: Ron Pauly

Great to hear about this.
If we could just get rid of all the drunks now!
Naw, i wouldn't want that.Id be denying someones freedom to do what they want.

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Article comment by: Matt Pennington

Just for 12 customers? I don't understand. Someone sounds to be a bit corrupt. Get them hooked, then you'll make MORE money. Preying on the weak. This will definitely be an improvement to our town. Shame.

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Article comment by: Jarod Dont be Ignorant

Jarod, REALLY? How long has this been going on and you still haven't a clue? The city counsilmen had no say. The only deciding factor on granting them their license was wether or not the the business was in compliance with city zoning laws. It was. Had the city counsil blocked this business from the city they would have set themselves up for a massive law suit. So I THANK them for doing right by the law and not putting more money out of settling a law suit.

PS you really should do some research on the harmful side effects of alchol vs the harmful side effects of medical marijuana.

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Article comment by: Jarod Sizemore

I'm so excited about this I can't stand it... What I will remember are the names of the city councilmen who voted in favor of putting this "business" right on main street. I won't be checking there names on the next ballot!

Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Article comment by: Douglas Glasscock

There is a reason they call it "DOPE" & not "smart"

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