At Union Chill Cannabis Co., sale marks start of education process

Lambertville-based dispensary has partnered with Prevention Resources to help consumers understand safe use — and safe storage

Cannabis dispensaries across the state are opening with one obvious goal in mind: selling their product to the consumer.

Union Chill Cannabis Co. in Lambertville is aiming to take that sale one step further. It wants the purchaser to have a complete understanding of the use of the product — and how to properly store it, so the cannabis doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

As it prepares to celebrate its one-year anniversary this month, Union Chill recently announced it is partnering with Flemington-based Prevention Resources to help in this education effort.

Prevention Resources will help show Union Chill customers — both in-store and online — how they can practice self-storage methods to protect themselves and those around them.

Matt Borish, the vice president of marketing at Union Chill, said he feels this nod toward education is a differentiator for the store.

“I think something that really sets us apart from a lot of dispensaries is that we really try and take the time with each customer,” he said. “There’s a lot of dispensaries you’ll go to, and there’s just a bunch of kiosks with menus that you go up and you order off the screen.”

“We really try to put a big emphasis on working with the customers to help them find the exact right fit for whatever it is they’re coming in for.”

Laurie McHugh.

Borish said the idea to make educating the customer a top priority is a nod to the memory of Laurie McHugh, a co-founder who passed away last summer.

Borish said McHugh always looked to give back to the community.

“She was really focused on the educational aspects of operating a dispensary — educating people about the plant and how it can help them,” he said. “She was always a very big proponent of safe and responsible consumption. So, those are things that we always try to focus on.”

Borish said the overall goal of the partnership with Prevention Resources is to enhance the customer experience, so consumers have a full understanding of the products offered and how to use and store them safely.

Prevention Resources will provide resources and tips on proper storage methods to minimize the risk of misuse or accidental ingestion — and it will have brochures and informational flyers in the store.

Laura Talty, who serves as project coordinator for Prevention Resources, explained the dynamic of seeking out Union Chill.

“With the legalization of cannabis, we felt, from a prevention standpoint, that it’s important to get involved in partnerships with dispensaries,” she said. “Not as somebody coming in, telling (the dispensaries) what they should do and how they should run their business, but more as a collaborator to keep customers safe and educate customers on how important is to safely store their products.

“I ended up reaching out to Union Chill to see if we can partner on a safe-storage initiative. We look at things the same way. They want to be promoting safe storage, and they want to have good relationships with their customers — to educate them not only on their products, but also how important it is to go home and make sure that it is locked up, out of the hands of youth and pets.”

The Lambertville dispensary.

Borish explained how the partnership helps the overall consumer experience and raises awareness.

“We put out a lot of information on consuming different products safely and responsibly — a how-to for each product, describing the uses and benefits of the various strains,” he said.

Prevention Resources has a variety of outlets and resources involved in school and community outreach for the education of drugs and substances. Talty said it not only wants to educate youth about drugs and alcohol, but also seek to serve adults with knowledge of what goes into these substances, and how to handle it safely.

“I think the collaboration is a milestone in itself,” Talty said. “Just having that opportunity to have open dialogue and to talk about what the important issues are and be in agreement that these issues are, is important.

“It’s important to have a mindset of locking it up and keeping you safe. That’s across the board. I don’t think anybody wants to see any youth get hurt, get involved in substances to an extent that could be harmful to them or somebody else.”

Talty hopes her group can work with other dispensaries.

“We’ll see where it goes,” she said. “A milestone for us would be to be involved in other dispensaries, doing the same thing that we’re doing with Union Chill.”

Borish said the dispensary’s commitment to educating customers is having an impact.

“Being education-focused is something that sets us apart from some of our competitors,” he said. “That’s something we see a lot in reviews. Someone will say they drove an hour and a half past a lot of other dispensaries to come here because we’re the place that really takes the time to work with our customers.”