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At Dover Medical Marijuana Forum, Questions About Access Outweigh Concerns

DD via Flickr Creative Commons

A little less than three dozen people showed up to a forum last night in Dover to discuss a proposed medical marijuana dispensary in town – but, for the most part, the crowd didn’t come to push back on the plans.

Instead, most of those who spoke wanted to know more about how soon they could get access to marijuana and what kind of rules were in place for patients or caregivers.

“I wonder how much longer – I mean, the Legislature passed this over a year ago – I’m wondering how much longer it’s going to be before we can actually get some relief?” asked Barbara Hilton, a 66-year-old Portsmouth resident who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. Hilton, speaking after the meeting, said she has tried other forms of relief to no avail.

Temescal Wellness – the company selected by the state to operate in the region that covers Belknap, Strafford and Rockingham counties – is looking to open a dispensary in a building currently under construction at 26 Crosby Road in Dover, pending approval from the local planning board. Town officials are planning to hold a separate meeting where the public can comment on those plans.

While Temescal Wellness is still awaiting approval in Dover and has not yet begun growing its products at a separate cultivation site proposed in Manchester, company representatives said they are hoping to open to the public in early 2016.

Monday’s forum in Dover was the latest in a series of sessions held around the state leading up to the official launch of its medical marijuana program.

In addition to  Dover, Temescal Wellness also has approval from the state to operate in western New Hampshire. Other companies approved by the state have proposed separate medical marijuana dispensaries in Plymouth and Merrimack.

New Hampshire plans to allow potential patients and caregivers to start registering with its medical marijuana program starting next week, health department rules coordinator Michael Holt announced at the forum Monday night.

The Department of Health and Human Services is aiming to open up applications for prospective patients and caregivers by Nov. 2, Holt said. Submitting an application does not guarantee that someone will receive certification – but the state hopes this will speed up the process for patients once the dispensaries are up and running and will make it easier for the dispensaries to estimate how many patients they might be serving, he said.

New Hampshire legalized medical marijuana 2013, but state officials have ruled that potential patients cannot access the substance until the dispensaries are ready to open.

Casey is a Senior News Editor for NHPR. You can contact her with questions or feedback at cmcdermott@nhpr.org.
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