DHHS decries California-style pot dispensary

December 27th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »

PORTLAND — A medical marijuana dispensary that’s scheduled to open in Portland next month is designed as a California-style wellness center.


Its operator is promoting a free coffee and tea bar, acupuncture clinics, support groups, counseling and a “welcoming vapor lounge.”

The new website of Wellness Connection of Maine says, “Patients are always welcome to relax and socialize near our fireplace, or enjoy a free cup of tea with a friend in our cafe space.”

The manager of Maine’s medical marijuana program says a dispensary with such amenities would violate state regulations aimed at ensuring that dispensaries are places to get medicine for serious illnesses, not places to socialize.

Creating a social setting for the dispensation of medical marijuana is unhealthy because it promotes more marijuana use than is medically necessary and puts users and the public at risk if customers drive home under the influence, said John Thiele of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services.

In California, which also allows marijuana to be distributed for medical purposes, many dispensaries have become popular hangouts, he said, and that’s one reason why California has run into problems with the federal government, which considers all marijuana use illegal.

“We don’t want that to occur here,” Thiele said. “You don’t encourage people to hang out in the local pharmacy.”

Wellness Connection of Maine, formerly Northeast Patients Group, is leasing a roughly 6,000-square-foot space at 685 Congress St., behind the Local 188 restaurant. The nonprofit group plans to open its dispensary late next month. City officials say they expect to

Article source: http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/dhhs-decries-california-style-pot-dispensary_2011-12-26.html