Wellness Connection of Maine Hosts Hallowell Open House | Community Spirit
Invited guests at Tuesday’s open house hosted by The Wellness Connection of Maine (WCM) met staff members and toured the newly-renovated Water Street space that will serve as one of Maine’s licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.
WCM is a fully-licensed, state-regulated, non-profit medical marijuana dispensary, one of eight dispensaries that are either in operation or will soon be in operation since the state of Maine approved the sale and use of medical marijuana in dispensaries for qualified patients nearly two years ago.
WCM received state approval to operate four dispensaries. In addition to the Hallowell facility, WCM operates a dispensary in Thomaston and will soon open facilities in Portland and Brewer.
According to Becky DeKeuster, the Hallowell facility on the second floor at 115 Water Street recently began accepting patients. Under existing law, Maine’s medical marijuana patients are allowed to designate one dispensary to provide medicine. “We’re very proud of this beautiful facility,” DeKeuster said. “It’s just how we envisioned it. It is a welcoming, peaceful and restful place where I hope our patients will feel the same. “Our patients are not customers to us,” she added. “They are a part of the Wellness Connection family. We will know the names and faces of every patient who comes here. Our highly-trained staff members will sit with each patient and get to know them and understand their health issues. We will take as much time as necessary to develop an individualized patient care plan for each person who comes through our door.”
“Our main focus is to provide our patients with the highest quality, affordable medical cannabis available,” DeKeuster said. “And in this beautiful setting, we will encourage patients to talk with other patients, to connect with others who are in similar situations. Isolation, loneliness and despair are too often a part of serious illness. We don’t want that for our patients. We will connect our patients to other wellness services and local medical facilities and together we will work to improve the quality of their lives.”
Only patients or their caregivers who designate the WCM dispensary in Hallowell to provide their medicine are allowed access to the facilities there. DeKeuster explained there is extensive security in the clinic and around the Water Street property. All patients must comply with strict dispensary rules, which include an agreement not to loiter on the property, not to display the medicine outside the facility, never to divert their medicine, and always to respect the neighboring businesses and residences.
The ‘typical’ medical marijuana patient in Maine is estimated to be between 40 and 50 years old, which is reflective of the state’s population. State law requires patients to possess a valid physician’s recommendation on tamper-proof paper. Physicians may recommend medical marijuana to patients who are suffering from one or more of a very specific list of conditions for which this medicine can be recommended under Maine state law.
Hallowell Mayor Charlotte Warren spoke at Tuesday’s event, noting that she has been working with state and local law enforcement, along with DeKeuster, to ensure that all regulations have been met and that the community is protected. “I understand that some people question the merit of medical marijuana and others question the wisdom of locating a dispensary within our city limits,” she said. “I want to assure residents that after several meetings with WCM board members, the Maine Dept. of Health and Human Services, the Hallowell Police Department, and Ms. DeKeuster, I am confident that this will be a professionally-operated medical facility. I believe this dispensary and its professionally trained staff will serve its patients who suffer from chronic or terminal illnesses, with great care and respect. Ms. DeKeuster has assured me that WCM will operate in compliance with the letter and the spirit of Maine’s medical marijuana laws and that strict security measures are in place.” For more information about the Hallowell dispensary, contact 358-8833 or visit www.mainewellness.org