Second medical marijuana dispensary planned near transit center

Graphic courtesy HerbaFi Wellness.

Silver Spring will get a second medical marijuana dispensary when HerbaFi Wellness opens at 8413 Ramsey Ave. across from the transit center.

Founder Zeina Frayha, who will handle the financial end of the business, and her husband, Terry Saad, who will be director of operations, lead the family-run operation. Frayha’s father is a rheumatologist and will serve the company as its medical director.

The two were motivated to apply for a license by what they’ve experienced with family and friends.

“”We both have a lot of physicians on both sides of our family, and everybody see the needs for more natural alternatives out there than pharmaceutical drugs,” Frayha said. “Talking together with the family for the past few years, we just saw the need for it.”

She also said they both know relatives and friends who could use this alternative treatment.

For example, the two spoke of a close friend with a daughter who suffers from brain damage and has as many as 50 daily seizures. The parents debated whether they should pack up everything and move to Colorado in order to get treatment there.

In other cases, they spoke of relatives with cancer who could have benefited from using medical marijuana.

“We wanted to get into this industry to help people,” said Saad, who also is a longtime volunteer firefighter and EMT. “We do believe that this is a medicine that people have a choice to have and we wanted to be able to offer that choice. Right now, there is no choice for them.”

Once the dispensary is open on two floors in the former location of the TRiPS Commuter Store, the company will offer a variety of products that can be ordered online or via a planned app. They will offer delivery service within 30 miles of Silver Spring as well.

Saad said the company had applied for a license in five legislative districts, but were very familiar with Silver Spring.

“They asked us which one we would choose as your number one and we said Silver Spring is our number one,” he said. “It’s close to 495, it’s easy to get to, it’s diverse, it’s multicultural—we love everything about Silver Spring.”

The company is in the permitting process and expects to choose a general contractor and begin construction shortly. Work will include the installation of a big investment in security for the premises.

“We’ll be spending close to $70,000 in security,” Saad said. “[We’ll] have 20-plus cameras, more than 10-plus glass breaks and motion detectors. We’re going to be probably one of the most secure buildings in Silver Spring.

“We’re doing that both to be compliant with the regulations but also, we probably went above and beyond, just to make sure that we have the safest and most secure place to purchase from,” he added.

The couple hopes to have the facility completed in eight to 10 weeks. If products are not available when they’re ready to open—products aren’t expected until around the first of the year—they’ll still be able to train employees, which will include about five wellness advisors.

The company has already started hiring and noted that one job posting resulted in more than 300 résumés being submitted within three days for one position as a wellness advisor.

“Our in box was getting flooded,” said Frayha, “so after the third day, I said ‘Can you please take it down?’”

They’ve already hired five employees so far and expect to have about 8-10 people working for the company when they open. Once they do, a portion of the company’s profits will be donated to local charities.

In the meantime, they’ve started a newsletter that potential customers can sign up for to stay informed. The company also is on Facebook, Instagram and has a Twitter account, @herbafi.


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