It looks just like a doctor's office, and for those seeking medical marijuana as an alternative healing method, it might as well be.
Located at 12152 N. Rancho Vistoso Blvd., Catalina Hills Care (CHC) opened on July 25, 2013 to an Oro Valley community that had mixed feelings about a dispensary in town limits.
But, as time has passed, it seems support is growing as Catalina Hills Care's patient base continues to broaden, and ongoing discussion over expanded hours and home delivery options indicate the dispensary is becoming a more trusted and viable option for patients, many of which—in Oro Valley but elsewhere also—are turning to marijuana as a way to abandon prescription drugs.
"That's my favorite part about this job, helping those people that want to get off those drugs get off them," said Ana Helber, general manager, who prior to CHC worked in the assisted living industry.
Similar to that profession, a large number of CHC's patient base—approximately 30 percent—is made up of patients aged 70 or older.
"Our goal was to make the office similar to what our demographic is used to," said Helber. "Our model works well for an older age group. There are no pot leaves, it's not obnoxious or in your face. It's a professional environment."
Also in CHC's favor is the benefit of being located just minutes from a police station in a town that is nationally recognized for its public safety model—that combined with the fact the shop has bulletproof glass, numerous security cameras, and several alarm panels.
"We're one of the safest dispensaries of any in the state," said Helber.
The relatively new industry continues to go through changes at the state and local levels.
One of those changes will mandate that dispensaries can no longer certify for medical marijuana cards. CHC is countering this obstacle by referring patients to a doctor that is trusted and nearby.
Another change at the state level is the addition to a potential delivery option that could benefit immobile or disabled patients. Helber said the passage of post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition beginning Jan. 1, 2015 could have huge impacts on CHC's client base since so many veterans live in Oro Valley.
Other commonly treated conditions at CHC include Crohn's disease, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and dementia.
To treat the wide range of ailments, CHC offers 24 different strains to choose from, each of which will have a different effect on its user. Some, like the popular Cannatonic are high in CBD, meaning it will treat symptoms without giving the "high" feeling. Others who prefer that feeling can get it through THC mixtures. The shop has a large variety of edibles that cater to both forms, such as gummy bears, honey sticks, chocolate bars (with vegan and sugar free options), teas, juices, and more.
Helber said while industry prices are still somewhat high due to competition with the black market, CHC prices will soon drop with the introduction of its own grow, expected to come to fruition in the next couple months.
"We're always trying to bring our prices down another notch," she said.
Unlike the black market, all CHC product is lab-tested, and CHC staff is trained to accurately fit strains to a person's condition.
For a full list of inventory, including daily deals, as well as information on becoming a cardholder, visit www.catalinahillscare.com. CHC can be reached at 797-3053.