[Editor's Note: After press time, the Trump administration lifted an Obama-era policy that discouraged federal prosecutors from bringing cannabis-related charges in states where it has been legalized. A congressional amendment prohibits the Justice Department from interfering with medical marijuana programs in approved states, but justice officials have expressed that this would not bar the possibility of medical marijuana-related prosecutions.]
Walking into the warehouse of Curio Wellness, you’re hit by a scent that’s somewhat expected but still surprising in its strength: marijuana.
As one of the Baltimore region’s first medical cannabis facilities, this large industrial space looks like a futuristic science lab, with bright lighting overhead and staff drifting about in turquoise scrubs and lab coats. Past security, through a hygienic entrance, and down the long hallway, you pass cultivation chambers filled with lights for growing cannabis plants, and drying and curing rooms, where long, leaf-covered stems hang upside down to dry. It all adds up to one thing: the medical cannabis industry is officially here, and even as the Trump administration throws its future into uncertainty, well-oiled machines like Curio make it look like it’s going to stay.
Dressed in a hazmat suit and hairnet, Wendy Bronfein rattles off the high-tech features of this state-of-the-art facility, which she co-founded in 2014 with her father, Michael, an alumnus of the healthcare industry. “We’re taking the structured, common sense approach of the food and drug industry and applying it here,” says Bronfein, pointing out the complex irrigation system and beaker-filled research and development areas. “Our goal is to make standardized medicine. We’re going to need to sustain the demand.”
After state approval, Curio’s production began at their Timonium facility this past August, and when their dispensary opens—they’re aiming for this month—they will be among the first growers and processors to hit the local market, offering a range of premium products to the more than 10,000 residents already waiting with medical cannabis cards. (Cannabis can be recommended by doctors for the treatment of everything from cancer to chronic pain.) At full capacity, Curio expects to grow upward of 11,000 pounds of “flower” a year.
Those harvests will then be available just down the street at Curio’s brick-and-mortar dispensary in the form of smokable buds, tinctures, topicals, capsules, and vapes. Here, cardholders can come for patient consultations and pickups, while other features, such as a vitamin and supplement pharmacy, massage, and acupuncture, will be open to the public.
With modern fixtures and a sleek spa vibe, Curio hopes to offer a more holistic approach to wellness in a setting that feels like a high-end experience. “Not a headshop,” insists head pharmacist and dispensary manager Brian Sanderoff, noting that the space will double as an educational facility with workshops, support groups, and job training. The goal is to inform the local community about this new industry’s role in the future of integrative medicine.
“It’s a really exciting time,” says Bronfein. “We don’t believe that cannabis is here to be a cure-all. But we do know it improves people’s quality of life, and we think that’s really important.”