Virginia’s third medicinal cannabis dispensary, Beyond/Hello, opened its doors on December 1 in Manassas. The 93,000 square foot warehouse is located off Highway 66 and about half a mile from the George Mason University science campus.
Beyond/Hello was one of five dispensaries, or “pharmaceutical processors”, selected out of 51 applicants by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy. Each selected facility corresponds to one of Virginia’s five Health Service Areas. Beyond/Hello is located in HSA II. The other two open facilities are Dharma Pharmaceuticals (HSA III) in Bristol and Green Leaf Medical of Virginia (HSA IV) in Richmond. The Virginia Board of Pharmacy oversees the distribution of permits.
Gregory Kennedy, vice president of operations of Dalitso LLC d/b/a Beyond/Hello chose Manassas over more populated Alexandria and Arlington in HSA II due to its affordability: “The rent and space is better in Manassas, than Alexandria and Arlington, but still pretty central,” Kennedy said.
Trent Wollovack, chief commercial director of Beyond/Hello’s parent company, Jushi, said the name Beyond/Hello came from their vision for the dispensary: “We want it to be more of an educational stop, going beyond just a hello,” he said.
Beyond/Hello is also more than a dispensary with an educational stop—it is a vertically-integrated company, which means it does all of its own cultivation, processing and dispensing in one spot. The enormous building will be broken into two spaces, with 45,000 square feet used so far for commercial, and the other half dedicated to production. Space for production is still being built out and when it is, the building will have the capacity for nine grow rooms and a lab production facility to produce 27,000 lbs of cannabis annually.
So far, they have grown 6,000 lbs.
In the future, Kennedy said he will have five “patient access points” in addition to this main facility, with the access points functioning as satellite dispensaries. Beyond/Hello is also allowed to wholesale products from other pharmaceutical processors increasing its offerings to patients.
In order to purchase products, patients must bring a physician provided certification form, Virginia Board of Pharmacy medical card and a valid photo ID. Per state law, entry to the facility is by appointment only and initial appointments require a consultation with the in-house pharmacist, Farzana—who also happens to be Kennedy’s wife.
Kennedy said his wife was the “key to winning the permit and very passionate about bringing cannabis to Virginia.” As a pharmacist, she is a member of the Virginia Board of Pharmacy and was able to attend and participate in legislative sessions leading up to legalization.
Appointments are available in 15-minute increments and limited to 34 daily, per Covid restrictions. The booking schedule went live the day before Thanksgiving and Kennedy said they received 100 reservations in the first hour: “They couldn’t schedule it fast enough,” he said. Needless to say, appointments on opening day were fully booked.
Lisa Jones of Gainesville secured one of the first appointments at Beyond/Hello and is also a first time cannabis dispensary visitor. She exited the dispensary with creams and oils to help with pain from rheumatoid arthritis and to help with sleep.
“I had a consultation with the pharmacist to decide what I need and then waited for products,” Jones said. “It was so easy.”
Patients can purchase oil-based cannabis in a variety of forms like vape pens, creams, oils, capsules and lozenges. Per Virginia limited medical cannabis law, cannabis flower is not currently allowed to be sold though many believe that will change in the next year or two.
Photo by Shabnam Danesh