“We sell medical cannabis, a Schedule 1 drug, to people with a medical marijuana card, and we take our business as seriously as the Walgreen’s down the street."
Med Pot Comes to Hipster-ville
BY DAN VUKELICH
Nob Hill now has its own marijuana dispensary.
The co-located operations will sell tie-dyed shirts, pipes and items from the 1960s up front. Behind Birdland’s display counter is a brightly painted 1960’s VW van.
Farther into the store, behind a locked door controlled by a buzzer, is a modern showroom with glass showcases to display large glass jars full of marijuana products.
At the time of our interview, Leonard Salgado, director of New Mexico operations for Ultra Health, awaited a final fire marshal inspection, the last step before New Mexico Department of Health approval, to begin sales to medical marijuana cardholders.
“We sell medical cannabis, a Schedule 1 drug, to people with a medical marijuana card, and we take our business as seriously as the Walgreen’s down the street,” Salgado said.
Salgado already oversees four Ultra Health locations in Hobbs, Bernalillo, Santa Fe, and another Albuquerque store at 7401 Menaul Blvd. N.E.
Ultra Health, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., grows marijuana for its New Mexico dispensaries in a 23,000-square-foot greenhouse in Bernalillo, Salgado said. Under state rules, the company can cultivate no more than 450 plants at a time.
There are about 21,000 medical marijuana cardholders statewide, about half of them in Bernalillo County, Salgado said.
The average age of Ultra Health’s customers is 50 – people who have tried unsuccessfully to treat pain with traditional drugs. About half suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, Salgado said.
Jay Steinberg, owner of Birdland, said the pairing of the two businesses in an iconic section of Albuquerque was a natural. “The neighbors have been so positive and the response from some is that they think it will increase their dining business,” Steinberg said.
The sales floor of the dispensary is accessible only to a medical marijuana cardholder and a caregiver. While it’s warmly lit, the space is loaded with surveillance cameras and motion sensors. After hours, the inventory of 14 strains of marijuana and edibles are locked in an 800-pound safe bolted to the floor.
Ultra Health is operated by Salgado and Duke Rodriquez, former CEO of Lovelace Health Systems who served as secretary of health under former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. Salgado was an administrator under Rodriquez at Lovelace.
Dan Vukelich is editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.