State’s first medical marijuana dispensary to open its door Saturday

  • A jar containing a strain of marijuana nicknamed “Killer D” is seen at a medical marijuana facility in Unity, Maine. AP file

Monitor staff
Published: 4/29/2016 7:08:39 PM

New Hampshire’s first therapeutic cannabis dispensary will open its doors today.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services granted Sanctuary ATC in Plymouth a registration certificate to begin operating this weekend.

“It’s been unbelievable,” said DHHS licensing chief John Martin, about the run-up to signing off on the certificate Friday afternoon. “We didn’t know everything was in place until about 10 minutes ago.”

Martin said that the other dispensaries in Dover and Lebanon are close to getting final approval from DHHS and could be open as early as next week “if all goes well.” Those two dispensaries are run by Temescal Wellness.

“Very shortly,” Martin said. “In the next couple of weeks, the dispensaries will be open.”

The fourth dispensary in Merrimack will be delayed for a few more weeks. Prime Alternative Treatment Centers recently had to change the location of that dispensary because of an issue with the landlord at the original location, which caused the delay, according to DHHS Director of Communications Jake Leon.

“The Town of Merrimack recently approved the new location and the ATC is moving forward with construction,” Leon said in an email. “The delay is also due to construction on their cultivation site, which is the biggest of the three cultivation sites by far and construction has taken longer than anticipated.”

The Merrimack dispensary will serve the Concord area. Because of its delayed opening, Martin said qualifying patients can call the department to request to change their alternative treatment center if they wish. The process to switch takes up to 20 days.

However, patients can only be enrolled at one alternative treatment center at a time; if a person tries to access two dispensaries at once, the alternative treatment center will be notified, Martin said.

Martin praised Sanctuary ATC and said the process of opening the first dispensary has gone very smoothly.

“Sanctuary has been great to work with. Their facilities are state of the art,” he said. “They’re well positioned at this point to bring a quality therapeutic product to their patients.”

The dispensaries opening will fill a long-awaited service in the state; the New Hampshire Legislature legalized medical marijuana in July 2013.

DHHS has so far approved 613 patient applications for therapeutic cannabis registry cards and has received a total of 806 applications.

Martin said his office is still receiving calls from patients complaining their doctors won’t certify they have a condition that they could use cannabis for.

“That’s been the big one,” he said.

Martin said that while the dispensary will be open starting today, it will initially have a limited amount of product available for use. However, it will have several different strains of smokable product as well as edible cannabis-infused products available from the start.

Sanctuary is growing more than 50 different strains of cannabis. Their grow site had a successful initial harvest and is about to do a second harvest, Martin said.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a problem with quantity,” Martin said. “Over time I think the product line will expand.”

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)

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