BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) — A second medical marijuana dispensary is coming soon to the Tri-Cities.

Rise Dispensary in Bristol, Virginia held a ribbon cutting Wednesday.

The dispensary is parent company Dharma Pharmaceutical’s second in the Tri-Cities region. A Rise Dispensary opened in Abingdon in 2020.

The rollout of medical marijuana sales in Virginia started when the state issued pharmaceutical processing permits to five companies, one for each health service area in Virginia.

Each company receiving that permit was allowed to open five dispensaries in their health service area.

Dharma received the processing permit and has since opened the Abingdon location as well as Christiansburg, Lynchburg and Salem.

The dispensary held an open house following the ribbon cutting. Rise Dispensary Strategic Leader Shanna Berry said the company is receiving a warm welcome in Bristol.

“We have already had patients stopping by, people stopping by trying to inquire on how to become a patient,” Berry said. “We received an unbelievable amount of support from the community.”

Bristol Chamber of Commerce President Beth Rhinehart said the business fits in well.

“The Commonwealth has taken a very conservative look at how these are operating, how they’re opened, how they’re regulated,” Rhinehart said. “Knowing that’s really the umbrella to this really gives people a lot of comfort.”

The dispensary is not yet selling medical marijuana products.

Anyone purchasing medical marijuana must be a Virginia medical patient and receive a written certification for the use of medical marijuana from a physician registered with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy to issue medical marijuana certifications.

“They will need to bring their recommendation, a photo government ID with them,” Berry said. “Then can come and meet with our pharmacist and determine what type of medications they would like to purchase at our facilities.”

Under state law, Rise’s products are tested for safety by a third party.

“We are governed by the Board of Pharmacy currently,” Berry said. “Our products are third-party analytically tested to make sure they’re free of pesticides, molds, mycotoxins, heavy metals and residual solvents. You will know the potency and purity of the products you are receiving.”

Berry said the growth of medical marijuana in Virginia also gives rise to an alternative way of combatting the opioid crisis.

She said Rise Dispensary is involved in efforts to help people struggling with addiction.

“We are working with patients to help them get off of opioids, get off of benzos and other controlled substances,” Berry said. “We work with a lot of pain management clinics in the region and suboxone clinics and with their patients to help them taper off of those medications.”

There’s also hope among city officials that introducing medical marijuana can bring an economic boost as well.

“It’s going to be a game-changer for the area,” said City of Bristol, Virginia Economic Development Specialist Mack Chapman. “I do believe it’s going to be a big asset for the city.”

Berry said the Bristol dispensary has passed its state inspection, but they still need final state approval before opening.

Rise Dispensary is located on Gate City Highway next to the Bristol Casino.