MediGreen opens the doors of a second dispensary and clinic today with its founders determined to set a new benchmark for patient care in the medicinal cannabis sector.

The new premises will offer consulting, prescribing and dispensing services in the east Melbourne suburb of Carnegie, close to the MediGreen’s existing site in Bentleigh.

But the fit-out will offer a new experience for patients, according to co-owners Angelica Rostov and Sharon Miller.

Unlike MediGreen’s first clinic/dispensary, which the duo inherited from a franchise network with limited scope for a refit, the Carnegie premises has been designed from scratch. 

The result is a welcoming and comfortable environment intended to tackle stigma and provide a relaxing atmosphere for patients, Rostov said.  

“We were unable put our mark on the Bentleigh location but this is our vision, our baby,” she told Cannabiz. “It is still a medical approach, but we’ve chosen every piece of furniture, all the designs. The attention to detail has created a relaxing environment for patients that will help reduce the stigma that still exists around cannabis.”

The premises will include educational resources, including information on the endocannabinoid system, with staff on hand to demystify medicinal cannabis and demonstrate how the medicine should be consumed in its various forms.

While several months behind schedule owing to the strict and time-consuming licensing regulations governing medicinal cannabis – it has taken the best part of six months to get approval for a change of front door – Miller said it has set the benchmark in what companies should strive for. 

“The clinic, and especially the pharmacy, are aimed at setting that standard of what anyone else coming into the market needs to achieve,” she said. “We’re promoting medicinal cannabis, but we’re doing it to a higher level and in a way that demonstrates it’s a serious medicine.”

Miller said regulators are even using the site as a template for what inspectors should demand from new clinic-dispensary settings.

“They’re going to be using us as a training ground for their inspectors,” Miller said. “They have been really good to us from day one, from when we had our first inspection. We were asking questions about what was right, what was wrong, how we could fix it. We’ve always worked very closely with them.

“There is no need to be afraid of any regulatory body if you’re doing the best that you can. If you’re worried, you’re obviously doing something wrong.”

Since launching the business in 2020, approximately 2,000 patients have gone through MediGreen’s Bentleigh clinic, with more than nine out of 10 initial consultations face-to-face before patients transition to telehealth. Similar numbers are expected at Carnegie once the operation becomes established.

“A doctor wants to see and get to know a patient and for patients it’s far better to see a doctor and talk face to face,” Rostov said. “They are likely to be more open about their medical situation, and why they need cannabis.”

Miller added: “The one thing wrong with telehealth is that doctors can miss out on so much information as the patient walks around and comes into your room. A lot of that visual is lost and, when you don’t have that visual, the care is not as good.”

Despite the pharmacy and clinic co-existing in the same building, the pair stressed every patient has complete control of where their medication is dispensed.

Asked if they would consider a third premises, Rostov said: “Never say never. This project took a little longer than we expected, but it’s given us good knowledge of what needs to be done and what regulations need to be fulfilled. As the operation gets up and running and producing income, we’ll start thinking about the future.”

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...

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