HUNTS POINT — Patients walking into the new medical marijuana dispensary in the South Bronx will be greeted with sleek hardwood floors, cushy black office chairs and walls painted in soothing shades of white and light green.
In other words, they will enter what largely resembles a standard health clinic, albeit one filled with pro-marijuana signs and messages.
"We want the patients to feel as if they're visiting a physician," said Nelson Cuevas, general manager and lead pharmacist at the dispensary.
Security at the dispensary is extremely tight, with the marijuana itself stored inside of a locked bank safe in a back room and 21 cameras in place to monitor the building 24 hours a day, according to Cuevas.
Patients will not even be able to get into the facility by themselves but rather will have to be let in by security.
However, security guard Sam Garcia said he was confident that the dispensary was in a secure location overall and stressed that he did not want the precautions they take to intimidate the patients.
"We don't want to look like we're armed guards here," he said. "That's why we try to keep it warm and friendly."
The dispensary also seeks to educate its patients about medical marijuana and includes a flat screen television in the lobby that will play videos about the drug, along with statistics on the wall noting that 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana and that the drug causes zero deaths per year, unlike substances including alcohol and opioid pain relievers.
"We want the patients to feel comfortable and take off the stigma of cannabis," Cuevas said.
The marijuana will be prescribed in the form of either a capsule, spray, or vaporizer pen, and after its Nov. 7 opening, the dispensary will operate from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. It will be closed on Sundays.
Cuevas said he was eager to open up the facility so that residents of the South Bronx would be able to get a better understanding of how medical marijuana actually works.
"We all are super excited that we'll finally be able to open our doors and show the community what we do and why we're here," he said.