State’s first medical marijuana dispensary opens in Plymouth

State’s first medical marijuana dispensary opens in Plymouth

Richard Vincent, 65, of Loudon waits to enter Sanctuary ATC, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Plymouth after almost three hours on Saturday. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff Cars are parked outside Sanctuary ATC in Plymouth on Saturday morning during its first day of operations. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff Fred Cadarette of Franklin waits outside Sanctuary ATC in Plymouth on Saturday, April 30, 2016. The licensed medical marijuana dispensary was the first of four scheduled to open in New Hampshire. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Sanctuary ATC in Plymouth opened its doors to customers Saturday, becoming the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff Dozens of people struggling with severe and chronic pain purchased medical marijuana Saturday in Plymouth as the state’s first licensed dispensary opened for business, nearly three years after the treatment was legalized. “It’s a historic moment for New Hampshire, and it certainly makes sense,” said Laura Vincent, who waited for three hours for her husband, Richard, to be admitted into Sanctuary ATC. “It’s not like we’re desperate,” she said. “But there are a lot of people who are.” The opening, announced Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services, allows nearly 150 registered patients to purchase medical marijuana in Plymouth. Sanctuary ATC (Alternative Treatment Center) was one of three companies chosen to operate four dispensary in the state. A second dispensaries, in Dover could open as early as next week. Others are planned in Lebanon and Merrimack. It was a long time coming. Medical marijuana was legalized by the legislature in 2013, and the state has spent months licensing and monitoring the dispensaries and their grow sites. Rodney Bascom, chief of health facilities for the state, said Sanctuary completed four inspections in the weeks leading up to the opening. Speaking early Saturday afternoon at the facility on Tenney Mountain Highway, Bascom said things were moving smoothly. “Exactly as advertised,” he said. Sanctuary admits registered patients or caregivers on a walk-in basis, rather than through appointments. Two customers were being admitted into the secure facility about every 15 minutes. A few patients had been turned away early on, Bascom said, but only because they had registered to purchase at a different dispensary; patients can only be enrolled at one center at a time. The Vincents arrived nearly an hour before the 11 a.m. opening. Richard, 65, who has multiple sclerosis, is a patient advocate on the committee that has overseen implementation of New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program. Richard suffers from stiffness in his limbs, among other symptoms, and his neurologist has recommended medical marijuana as an option before increasing other over-the-counter medications, Laura said. “We’ve been surviving okay so it’s not as much as a watershed moment like it is for others,” she said of the dispensary opening. Joy Cadarette drove up from Franklin with her father, Fred, 86, who suffers from glaucoma and a host of other ailments. Since Joy is a registered caregiver, Fred didn’t technically have to make the trip. But “he insisted on it,” Joy said. “You can’t tell him anything,” she said, rolling her eyes. Fred waited in the car with an oxygen tank and a wad of cash as Joy stood in line. She said the goal was to ease his pain and make sleeping easier. “I’m really hoping this will help him,” Joy said. “In fact, I think it will.” (Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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