Campus Current

AACC grad runs cannabis shop

Anne+Arundel+County%27s+new+medical+cannabis+dispensary%2C+Green+Point+Wellness%2C+is+run+by+an+AACC+alumnus.+It+sells+hats%2C+pens+and+T-shirts%2C+as+well+as+medical+cannabis.
Anne Arundel County's new medical cannabis dispensary, Green Point Wellness, is run by an AACC alumnus. It sells hats, pens and T-shirts, as well as medical cannabis.

Anne Arundel County's new medical cannabis dispensary, Green Point Wellness, is run by an AACC alumnus. It sells hats, pens and T-shirts, as well as medical cannabis.

Photo by Raquel Hamner

Photo by Raquel Hamner

Anne Arundel County's new medical cannabis dispensary, Green Point Wellness, is run by an AACC alumnus. It sells hats, pens and T-shirts, as well as medical cannabis.

Michael Garvey, Newsroom Manager

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A former AACC student opened Anne Arundel County’s first medical cannabis dispensary in February.

Laura Toskov enrolled in professor Shad Ewart’s first Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Expanding Markets: Cannabis Legalization class during spring 2015.

Toskov, who had already earned her associate degree, said she returned to AACC to take the class after Maryland legalized medical cannabis in 2014.

“I went into the class knowing absolutely nothing about the [cannabis] business,” Toskov said. “It opened my eyes to how many avenues we could go down and showed me all the things I’d have to look at when opening a dispensary.”

After three years of research and jumping through bureaucratic hoops and strict zoning laws, Toskov and her husband, Tony, opened the doors of Green Point Wellness in Linthicum Heights near BWI airport on Feb. 12.

It is the 26th medical cannabis dispensary to open in the state since the Legislature made it legal for patients with a doctor’s recommendation to buy it in the state. The first dispensary, in Rockville, opened in December 2017.

Recreational use of cannabis is still not legal, but the state decriminalized possession of up to 10 grams in 2014, making it a civil offense.

“I applaud them for finding a space [despite] all the regulations the county put in place,” said Drew Chrostowski, a first-year transfer studies student enrolled in Ewart’s expanding markets class this semester.

Out of more than 800 applicants, the Toskovs, who spent around $70,000 during the application process, will operate one of the 102 dispensaries allotted to open in Maryland.

Using their background in customer service, the Toskovs designed Green Point Wellness to feel like the lobby of a spa to “change people’s minds on what a cannabis dispensary would look like. … We want people to feel like family,” Toskov said.

“It was very well put together,” Chrostowski said while on a class trip to the dispensary. “Very warm and welcoming lobby.”

During the dispensary’s opening day, Toskov said she was overwhelmed by the number of people who thanked her for giving them a non-opiod option to manage their pain. Some even thanked her for saving their lives, she said. “People have been waiting a long time,” she said.

Ewart said his class isn’t just for students who want to work in the cannabis industry. His class looks at the emerging opportunities surrounding the cultivation and dispensing of the plant. He refers to it as the “green rush.”

“I compare it to the gold rush,” said Ewart. “The money that was made in the gold rush was not made by the people who found the nuggets; it was made by the people that sold the picks and shovels. … Ironically, we are sitting here talking about Laura Toskov and she went for the gold nugget.”

Toskov is not the first of Ewart’s students to use what they learned to create a business, but, he said, his “students are mainly in the picks and shovels. Laura is kind of the unique one in that not only did she apply for the license but her and Tony got the license, and that is a tremendous accomplishment.”

Ewart said he has seen a change in who enrolls in his class since it started.

He said his earliest students were “stoner boys,” but more of them now are older, primarily entrepreneurial students who see cannabis as the next economic opportunity. Toskov said she also noticed the change when she met Ewart’s students who visited the dispensary in February.

She said the students were from more diverse backgrounds than her classmates in 2015.

“To me this is true economic activity that has been generated because of this class,” said Ewart. “I’m as proud about this as anything I’ve ever done in education. It seems to have had a true impact. … Because of this class there are businesses out there. That’s very powerful for me.”

Moving forward Ewart has plans to create a credit program at AACC for entry-level workers in the cannabis industry.

“There’s no reason why we can’t be the first college to do this,” said Ewart. “That’s my goal.”

Maryland residents and non-residents receiving medical treatment in state for cachexia, anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic pain can register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to start the process of receiving medical cannabis.

Photo by Raquel Hamner
Laura Toskov, a former student of professor Shad Ewart’s (left) poses in the Green Point Wellness dispensary with her husband, Tony. The dispensary opened on Feb. 12.

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AACC grad runs cannabis shop