By MEGAN BARRON
Cleaver Guest Writer
HARRISON – While it is no mystery that Harrison is now home to a new premium cannabis dispensary, for many the building may remain a bit clandestine. With window graphics preventing onlookers from viewing merchandise from the outside, the enticement of the building may house a shroud of obscurity for those who have never entered a dispensary.
With a more youthful history of legalization across the United States, cannabis products were first legalized for medicinal use in California back in 1996. As this trend gained footing and spread across a large majority of the states, the legalization of recreational use tagged right on its heels with Washington and Colorado pioneering the way by 2012. As this recreational wave continues to expand each year, Michigan is still riding the waves of freshness with legalization taking place just a short while ago in 2018.
With its legalization for recreational use, the state regulation of cannabis has opened the market for a controlled diversification in product availability. This variety and expanse of merchandise adds to the curious sensation with the emergence of dispensaries gradually forming their way into our communities. For those yet to step foot into one, the mind is left to roam: What is it like in there? Do I draw a number and take a seat like at the DMV? Will someone in scrubs assist me to a medical exam room for evaluation? Or will it have more of a retro feel of a head shop from the ’60s or ’70s? And the list goes on for those with wandering minds alike.
Brandon Beathea, manager of Amsterdam Premium Cannabis Company’s newest location here in Harrison warmly welcomed the Cleaver in for a tour and walk-through of the customer experience. Located at 231 S. First St., this is Amsterdam’s second location; the original is in Battle Creek, and their grow house is in Marshall.
“Harrison was on the table mostly due to the beauty of the community and amount of travel a person would need to take in order to visit a dispensary. We wanted to be able to service the folks that didn’t want to make such a long drive, with our added drive-through option we are able to add convenience to the guest also,” Beathea explained about the location.
Even with the window coverings, the building is warm and inviting, with entrance doors adorned in a professional and attractive company logo. Upon entering, a check-in desk equipped with a smiling budtender awaits visitors entering the doors. The atmosphere is mellow and low key, easing any anxiety that may have existed at the door. Customers are asked for their driver’s license for a quick check in to their system, and to ensure one’s legal age of 21 years or older for entry. An expansive, clean waiting room is situated behind the desk, with fresh and professional graphics garnishing the space. The average wait time is 3-10 minutes, as they really gear focus on the experience for their customers.
“For anybody coming in off the street I have budtenders that will take you and walk you through the process. If there is anything that you have questions about each budtender will walk you through and explain this can do this, this can do that, and if you are looking for something specific,” Beathea explains.
Customer service is of great importance, so everyone who enters the door does not feel like just a number, can have the opportunity to ask questions of their budtender, and learn in a relatively private setting.
Budtenders will meet the next guest in line, bring them into the product room and assist them with any product inquiries they may have.
“Our budtenders are very well educated on the product,” Beathea notes as he provides an overview of the product line they currently have, along with plans to expand. “We’re planning to rotate some local grows into our store, and we definitely want to make sure that the local farmers have an opportunity to get into the market, too.”
Their expansive hours, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Saturday, are designed to accommodate all schedules. Beathea shared that people come in for a wide variety of reasons, with the most common being anxiety, pain and sleep struggles. The most jovial conversation and rationale he recalls was with an elderly customer who told him they smoked because “while it drove their spouse nuts, about three minutes later they would stop and just talk about how the world works; it helped them to shut out the noise of the world.” Beathea recounts the nostalgic anecdote, “they were able to listen to one another like they were high school kids again.”
The drive-through option is a unique feature to the dispensary. Customers can place an order online and pick-up via the drive-through, or they can drive-up and place an order directly at the window. While their product line is always changing, it is convenient that their online menu is tied to their inventory. So, if an order is placed online, barring a few one-off situations, the product will be held for the customer. Beathea provided a gentle reminder for patrons utilizing the drive-thru feature: when exiting the parking lot on the north side of the building onto Oak Street, it is a one-way street, so vehicles are unable to turn left (west-bound) upon exiting this location.
With the building previously being a bank, it is unfortunate they are unable to utilize the vacuum tubes to deliver the product to customers. As fun as that may sound, the product is required to be monitored and remain in sight throughout the entire purchase.
“Everything that we sell here has been tested for anything whatsoever, pesticides all the way down to the THC level,” Beathea said of the intricate product regulatory requirements of the industry. “From seedling all the way to consumption, it is very well maintained and regulated. That is one thing with Michigan I am very happy with. I know some of these early states didn’t really have a game plan in place.”
With banks being insured at a federal level, it is typical for only cash to be accepted at a dispensary. Amsterdam does offer a newer form of payment created specifically for dispensaries called Dutchie Pay, a third-party vendor similar to PayPal. It allows for digital payments via a person’s bank account to be coordinated with the dispensary. This is a great step forward in the industry creating both ease with purchases and, most importantly, assisting in creating added safety for staff and patrons.
Amsterdam is currently in its soft-opening phase as of July 7, and planning for a grand opening on Sept. 2 for Labor Day weekend.
“It’s been overwhelming the response from the community,” Beathea humbly stated. “The overall response has been tremendous.”
He said people of all ages and all walks of life come through their doors. “We’re seeing people that literally on their 21st birthday they’re walking in the door all the way to their 86th or 87th birthdays. It’s all over the map. It’s wonderful.”
Amsterdam’s social media platforms are in the beginning stages, but the community is encouraged to keep an eye out on Facebook and eventually Instagram for updates on the grand opening, as well as future events and promotions. The business offer a 15% discount for veterans, which cannot being stacked with any other discounts or promotions. The website also will continue to grow and can be visited for future store updates at https://amsterdamhr.com.
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