Witnessing his mother’s struggle with the horrible side effects of cancer treatment in 2006, Moe Asnani from Downtown Dispensary felt helpless when trying to find different therapies. He began researching alternative medicine for the answer and came across numerous anecdotal research studies regarding the medicinal properties of marijuana. There were no options available in Utah, where his mother resided. Asnani made it his personal mission to become an advocate for medical marijuana and to educate as many people as he could.
In August of 2013, Asnani and his business partner, Chip Boyden, opened the doors to Downtown Dispensary. The business is a manifestation of his mission evolving into action. Even though Arizona was more conservative at the time, the medical use of marijuana became legal in 2010—only one of a few states at the time to do so. It was the perfect opportunity for Asnani to discover how he could help people get off of opioids by exploring the benefits of natural medicine as an alternative to traditional treatments.
The level of uncertainty about this new medicine hitting the market in 2013 was much higher than it is today, yet the business community was still supportive when the dispensary moved into the neighborhood. Located at 221 East 6th Street, Suite 105, Downtown Dispensary has a warm and welcoming interior and a staff that is accommodating in every way.
Bearing the title Patient Care Consultant, each employee goes through a rigorous training period led by their Medical Director. Every employee who has face-to-face time with patients is fluent in the educational process. The staff knows the products and discusses all aspects of the medicine with each patient, knowing that each person may react differently to the medicine. On the company’s website are numerous videos that will help new patients come to a better understanding of plant medicine and how it can help them.
Influenced by his personal experience with his mother, Asnani is determined to have the highest quality products on the shelves. Realizing that there are some products out there with high residual solvents, it is an absolute that Downtown’s inventory be tested for any impurities, pesticides or anything that is detrimental to the patient’s health. All the cannabis grown for their inventory is done indoor, in order to control all climate variables for optimum growth. Focusing more on the medicinal values of the plant, he has been working diligently on product development with efficacy as the cornerstone. In August 2017, Asnani and Boyden opened their second location, D2 Dispensary, on 22nd and Kolb.
The Downtown Dispensary laboratory team (iLava) was able to isolate a new cannabinoid on the marijuana plant, Delta 8 THC (Δ8). It’s a powerful cannabinoid native to the cannabis flower. It is typically found in much smaller amounts compared to Delta 9 THC (Δ9), its common, psychoactive, cannabinoid relative. While only a few atomic bonds are different from common THC, Δ8 offers a unique, potent high that is not like traditional THCA, CBD or other common cannabinoids. Using this newly discovered cannabinoid, and after researching and testing, a new product line was developed.
The exclusive iLava products are becoming popular throughout the state and MedLava is available only at Downtown and D2 Dispensaries. iLava Touch, a topical made with a unique essential oil blend mixed with THC and CBD, is sold in over 50 dispensaries statewide, and Delta 8 Clarity has started its distribution in Phoenix. Consumers of the new product have reported experiences that include clear-headedness, soothing body sensations and relaxation, with a lower psychotropic effect. If looking for deep physical relief without feeling out of tune with the body’s senses or mentally bogged down, Δ8 Clarity is the product.
Asnani believes that rapid changes will be taking place in the very near future within the industry. As a newly elected board member to the Arizona Dispensaries Association, Asnani has hopes that more dispensaries throughout the state will participate and contribute to expanding patient access in Arizona and work together against any hostile legislation. Helping medical marijuana become more accepted and mainstream will take the work of all of those involved. Downtown Dispensary is paving the way.
The Downtown Dispensary offers veterans and senior discounts and commits some of its proceeds to patient programs, as well as other nonprofit and charitable organizations that educate patients about their rights. The dispensary lobbies independently to improve patient access and is working to reduce patient registration fees to help qualifying patients. Asnani and Boyden have distinct backgrounds in regulatory compliance, finance and health information systems.
For more information, visit TheDowntownDispensary.com. See ad, page 61.
Jeffrey Green, MA, is an educator, having taught in elementary, middle and high schools and at the University of Arizona. Currently, he is a freelance writer, reiki practitioner and a light and energy worker. On staff for Natural Awakenings, Green enjoys educating the public on all things positive, natural and metaphysical.