HESPERIA — It was a historic day for one local municipality when the first legal medical cannabis business began making deliveries from the city’s green zone.
Medical Cannabis Educational Center in Hesperia celebrated its grand opening Friday by delivering medical cannabis-based products to legally registered patients in the High Desert and the Inland Empire.
“We are excited to be serving the entire High Desert and all of San Bernardino County,” said Arleen Curiel, 37, the owner and president of MCEC. “It has been an incredibly long journey to open our doors, but we finally crossed the finish line.”
Like a child on Christmas morning, 65-year-old Wayne Lanphere, of Hesperia, was all smiles when Curiel personally delivered the senior’s order of Calm Reserve Shelf Flower, the official first product order by MCEC.
“I broke my back in five places way back in 1996 and since then, I’ve been in extreme pain,” Lanphere told the Daily Press as he stood outside his home. “I will not use opioids and I will not use painkillers, so this is my alternative.”
After experiencing several “frustrating” encounters with other medical cannabis businesses, Lanphere said he chose MCEC because of their “reputation” and “great customer service.”
As Curiel drove back to the MCEC facility, she expressed her joy and said, “I could not have asked for a better first patient — this is why I do what I do, to help people like Wayne who really need the medicine.”
After being introduced to the local cannabis industry nearly two years ago by her brother, Jose, Curiel decided to spread her entrepreneurial wings by working toward opening the 3,000-square-foot facility that is now home to 30 employees.
“I remember when the city of Hesperia was adamant about not allowing the sale of medical cannabis in the city,” Curiel said. “It took a lot of work by a lot of people, but the City Council finally relented and today we’re helping people in Hesperia and across the High Desert.”
The MCEC facility includes a call center, a state-of-the-art security system, 24 surveillance cameras, GPS driver/product tracking map, computer data center and fulfillment area.
After returning to MCEC from making her delivery, Curiel was greeted with shouts of jubilation from company CEO Rick Casas and a group of employees who congratulated the conquering cannabis queen.
“We waited a long time for this, but we finally made it,” said Casas, as the sound of phones continued to ring throughout the building and employees filled multiple orders.
Nearly five minutes after opening, MCEC had already taken four orders for a variety of products, with a total price tag of over $500.
All MCEC orders must be delivered directly to the patient who placed the order. Drivers are trained not to enter homes and delivery vehicles only carry product that has been ordered. All vehicles are also equipped with security cameras.
“If you look around, you’ll see a high-tech professional business that is clean, orderly, proficient and very relaxed,” Curiel said. “It has a high-end and approachable boutique look, and it’s a place where our employees are proud to work.”
A communications major and graduate from California State University, Northridge, Curiel said the words “medical and education” validate what her company represents, adding that one of the goals of MCEC is to “end the stigma” that surrounds medical cannabis.
“My eyes were opened when I saw how medical cannabis really helped people — that’s why I really want to drive home that initiative with MCEC and change the image of medical cannabis,” Curiel said. “The wellness and holistic aspects of medical cannabis are really near and dear to my heart.”
Part of Curiel’s passion behind spreading the gospel of medical cannabis to those who are ailing comes from a loved one battling cancer who was helped by the popular and controversial plant.
“We’re serving the High Desert and the Inland Empire now, but our future plans include expanding into Los Angeles and Ventura counties and beyond,” Curiel said. “I’m sure we’ll transition to recreational use at one point, but right now our goal is to clean up the reputation of cannabis by helping one patient at a time.”
Besides running her company, Curiel reluctantly shared how she is active in the local community, recently assisting a nonprofit that cares for families.
“It’s just part of who I am,” Curiel said.
MCEC is a fully state-sanctioned, for-profit corporation, Casas emphasized. MCEC transitioned from the former “Medical Marijuana Educational Center,” which was a nonprofit, mutual benefit corporation that served Prop. 215 patients. In January, the classification and model will no longer be recognized.
MCEC is the first of nearly a dozen cannabis delivery businesses in Hesperia which will begin transporting medical cannabis, edibles, concentrates and cannabis-related products to legally registered patients in the High Desert and surrounding region.
Marijuana deliveries must be made to residential addresses and no walk-up services are permitted. All medically related uses of cannabis are prohibited, except for delivery services to medical patients, according to the city of Hesperia.
MCEC patients have the option of ordering via call center, website and mobile app while tracking orders using real-time GPS, said Casas.
NuggMD.com and MCEC have partnered to help individuals obtain their medical cannabis card online. Once approved, the medical card from NuggMD is instantly emailed to the patient and MCEC.
For more information, or to place an order, call 760-299-6232, 833-420-6232, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mcecdelivery.com.
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