Maine to open first medicinal marijuana dispensaries on East Coast, but not …

March 6th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »

Timothy Smale, a medicinal marijuana user, and his wife, Jenna, are planning to open a dispensary in Auburn, Maine.

Lewiston Sun Journal / Amber Waterman

If all goes as planned, the Rhode Island Department of Health will announce Tuesday who has been selected to open dispensaries that will legally sell marijuana to patients who have been certified by doctors as needing the drug to help cope with debilitating pain or disease.

But even if the groups proposing dispensaries go on a fast track to build facilities and start growing product, Rhode Island will not be the first state in New England to open such businesses.

By the end of this month, one state-regulated dispensary will open in Frenchville, Maine, on the Canadian border, according to John Thiele, program manager for Maine’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program. It will be the first on the East Coast.

Two more dispensaries are expected to open, one in Biddeford and another in Ellsworth, by the end of April. A fourth, located in a shopping plaza in Auburn, plans to open in May, run by a couple, Tim and Jenna Smale.

Both Rhode Island and Maine have allowed medicinal marijuana for several years –– since 1999 in Maine, and beginning in 2006 in Rhode Island. The programs were started in both states to help people who claimed to get little relief from prescription drugs to cope with pain, wasting syndrome and agitation caused by a host of conditions, including cancer, HIV and

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