Big news in Maine. Operators of Portland’s first medical marijuana dispensary announced Wednesday they quietly have begun serving patients at the new 685 Congress St. location. The 6,500-square-foot facility is one of four dispensaries opened or slated to open this year by Wellness Connection of Maine under the provisions of a 2009 state law allowing eight medical marijuana distribution sites across Maine.
Rebecca DeKeuster, executive director of Wellness Connection of Maine, said her organization is opting for a low-key opening at its Portland facility, saying in a statement that no grand opening is planned and that an open house for community leaders and “educational events” are scheduled for later in the year. The proposed Portland location came under fire in late 2011 when Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program Manager John Thiele expressed concerns about the facility’s planned “vapor lounge,” where patients could sit and breathe in marijuana-based medicinal compounds while avoiding the respiratory and carcinogenic risks associated with smoking.
In a statement released by Wellness Connection of Maine, Portland dispensary manager Diane Schinella said she expects the location to serve more than 100 patients in its first few months of operation, with plans to hire as many as eight employees there within the first six months. Only qualified patients are allowed to enter the dispensaries, which are state regulated and permitted.
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[image: google images Maine]
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