Cannabist opens in Hermann

Cannabist opens in Hermann

Ray Scherer

Cannabist, a medical marijuana dispensary in Hermann, has officially thrown open its doors to anyone seeking more information about the plant's capabilities of treating a range of health problems.

The business is located at 2060 Village Lane, the site of the former Hermann Pharmacy, in the Village Plaza. A Hermann Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday morning, with the entire day itself devoted to a grand opening. Melissa Lensing, the chamber's executive director; and Mayor Bruce Cox were among local dignitaries who participated in the ribbon cutting.

Derek Coxson -- who is manager, general manager/retail operations of Cannabist -- spoke exclusively to the Advertiser-Courier on the first formal weekend of business. Coxson said a soft opening began in late September, allowing staff and clientele to become accustomed to various functions, compliance with government regulations, and working relationships with vendors.

"Everything's been going great," said Coxson of the startup, terming Hermann as a "very, very supportive community."

To enter the business, a prospective patient or ongoing patient must produce a valid identification and a medical marijuana card for staff. First-time clients must initially complete an intake form -- which is eventually destroyed by a paper shredder. Cannabist has obtained its business license from the City of Hermann and also has medical marijuana certification from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Government regulation and oversight is intended to ensure safety, affirmed Coxson.

Simply put, he stated that the mission of Cannabist is to improve the local quality of life, and that objective is paired with a belief that Hermann is growing. He said it's hoped the business has a positive impact on the community and becomes involved in volunteer activities. Cannabist wants to assist and be responsive to the problem of opiate use in the area, he added.

The business is locally owned and managed, with the name Cannabist signifying a rebranding of a previous company's identity. Peter Devore, who oversees Cannabist, is based in Warrenton.

There has been some resistance to the presence of a medical marijuana dispensary in Hermann, with some residents telling Coxson they were in disbelief as to the purpose and that it represented an attempt to bring a sort of counterculture to the city.

"When we first started out, it wasn't received well," he said, noting that he had to field a host of questions about the motivations for opening such an enterprise.

"Our point of view is to educate," said Coxson, explaining there is still a certain amount of misunderstanding that Cannabist must overcome. "We want people to feel comfortable with this....We want to be a resource."

The dispensary has security for the protection of its seven-member staff and the clients. With physician input and the proper approval, medical marijuana can be used to treat a variety of health conditions such as inflammation and pain like that associated with arthritis.

"We're not doctors," he stressed. "We're not physicians."

It took a number of months to remodel the former pharmacy into a medical marijuana dispensary. A drive-through service is available to obtain the products offered by Cannabist, but a customer must first undergo an orientation. The business is following COVID-19 guidelines such as the requirement of face masks and social distancing.

Although the staff is currently set at seven, Coxson said that could change in the future, depending on circumstances. There is still no exact sense of the number of customers Cannabist will attract to its doors, he said, observing that the business is like others during a tough economy in luring enough job candidates.

"Right now, it's going to be hard to tell," he said of whether more employees will be needed. "We definitely want to hire locally."

Cannabist is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and is closed Sundays. The website is www.gocannabist.com. The office phone number is (573) 212-4062.