Operators of medical cannabis dispensaries are urging legislators to overturn a veto of a bill that would allow them to operate as for-profit companies.
Ted Rebholz is CEO and founder of Temescal Wellness, which currently has dispensaries in Dover and Lebanon.
He says the bill means lower prices, more access for patients, and more product selection for qualifying patients.
“It’s going to help patients, and it’s going to help patients almost immediately,” he says.
When the state’s medical marijuana program was enacted in 2013, it required dispensaries to operate as non-profit entities.
Rebholz says it’s all about financing.
“It seems ironic and counterintuitive to a lot of people, but allowing us to convert from a non-profit to a for-profit means that we can move away from a reliance on debt,” he said. “And we can move away from every single month sending lots and lots of money out the door to lenders and, instead, we keep that money at home, and we spend that money where it should be spent, which is on our patients and our employees.”
There are more than 7,000 people enrolled in the state’s therapeutic cannabis program. Access and affordability continue to be issues raised by patients and caregivers enrolled in it.
Rebholz says his company is looking at additional dispensary locations in Keene and on the Seacoast. “These are things we want to do, but of course we can’t get blood from a stone,” he says.
In his veto message, Gov. Chris Sununu said the change would "incentivize out-of-state special interests to acquire equity in New Hampshire's ATCs. Although I remain supportive of medical marijuana, this bill would represent too great of a step towards the dangerous path of industrial commercialization of the marijuana industry."
The Senate, which convenes Thursday, is first up to consider the governor’s veto. The chamber voted 14-10 to pass the bill earlier this year. The House passed it on a voice vote. (See NHPR's Veto Tracker)
There are currently five medical cannabis dispensaries, called "alternative treatment centers" under the state's program, open in New Hampshire. Prime ATC and Sanctuary ATC are other operators. Current locations: Merrimack, Plymouth, Conway, Lebanon, Dover.
On Wednesday, the state House of Representatives overturned Sununu's veto of a bill to allow patients enrolled in the therapeutic cannabis program to grow a limited amount of marijuana plants.