Phoenix Holistic Health Center in Ahwatukee Foothills is out to inform the community that medical marijuana, or cannabis, is not something to fear.

"People fear what they don't know," said Gayle Palms, owner of the center. "Cannabis has been around for many years. There's quiet a history about it."

The Phoenix Holistic Health Center helps patients find natural cures to all sorts of ailments. They use naturopathic medicine, herbs, acupuncture, aesthetics and even hypnotherapy. Palms, an herbalist, hopes that soon they will be able to extend their services to also include medical marijuana in a responsible and safe way.

"We want to extend the apothecary here," she said. "We want to add more Indian herbs, more Chinese and Western herbs, and herbs from Phoenix. But then the other part is we want to add the medicinal marijuana herb to it. We believe it belongs with the herbs."

Opening a dispensary is not an easy process. The application alone requires a well thought out business plan including policies and procedures for inventory control, patient record keeping, security and patient education, according to the Department of Health Services. The problem Palms is facing is finding a location in Ahwatukee, where her clients are, that meets zoning requirements and is a good fit for her business.

"One of the comments was that they think dispensaries should be placed in strip malls that are kind of like a ghost town," Palms said. "I think that's really unfair to put us in a place which would promote high crime if we went into that. We are a legitimate business with professional practitioners here. Our clients love coming here. They like the atmosphere. We don't want to be in a run down strip mall."

Palms is working with her entire staff to get the application completed. They've found a growing site and have conducted interviews to find the best team for their new project.

"We had to interview a group of people that we were comfortable with," she said. "We had to interview attorneys and somebody who was on the same page as us. We had to interview certified public accountants. We had to interview medical directors. We now have a really good team. We're feeling really confident with it."

Now as the center is coming close to finishing its application and still working to find a location, they want the community to know what cannabis is and how it can be helpful.

Phoenix Holistic Health Center will be hosting a class to discuss cannabis this Thursday, April 28, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the center, 4747 E. Elliot Road, Suite 13. The class is free and open to the public but an RSVP is required because seating is limited.

To RSVP go to or call the wellness class organizer, Christine Marek, at (480) 491-9551.

The center's doctors will be on site to answer additional questions. Palms hopes it will make people feel a little more comfortable and a little more aware.

"We're not just going to offer it [marijuana] to anybody coming in," Palms said. "They're going to have to see a medical doctor. They have to go through their protocol and their questioning and they're going to look at each individual and their condition and see if they really warrant a prescription. We're going to offer them acupuncture, we're going to offer them IV therapy, we're going to offer them nutritional support. We're going to offer detox to them. Hopefully, our goal is to get them off any sort of medications and to help with their conditions. Not only are we going to be educating ourselves through this whole process but also our community so that they can come in and learn the things that we're learning."

Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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