Wellness Connection of Maine is moving its midcoast medical marijuana dispensary from Thomaston to downtown Bath.

The decision was driven by increased demand for space and privacy and the need for a more centralized location, according to Wellness Connection officials. The move is expected to happen by the end of the summer after work on the Bath location is finished.

The dispensary is one of eight state-licensed medical marijuana storefronts around the state.

Patricia Rosi, CEO of Wellness Connection of Maine, says the move to Bath will enable the dispensary to better serve its rapidly growing member base. The Thomaston dispensary, which opened in 2011, serves more than 1,000 patients.

“It is a bittersweet move for us,” Rosi said. “The town of Thomaston has always been a welcoming and supportive community.”

The Bath dispensary will be housed in the former Gediman’s Appliance building at 67 Centre St.

Wellness Connection operates four of Maine’s eight state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. In addition to its midcoast dispensary, Wellness Connection has locations in Brewer, Gardiner and Portland. It also operates a cultivation facility in Androscoggin County.

Maine legalized marijuana for medical use in 1999 and the state’s first large-scale dispensaries opened in 2012. Since then, the number of customers has grown rapidly, with as many as 35,000 patients now issued certifications by their doctors. The state cannot provide an exact number of patients because it does not keep a registry of names. Licensed caregivers can also provide medical marijuana to up to five patients each.

The Wellness Connection serves more than 10,000 patients across the state.

Last year, Mainers spent $23.6 million on medical marijuana from dispensaries, a 46 percent increase driven by multiple factors, including patients seeking alternatives to prescription painkillers and more doctors certifying patients to use medical marijuana. The dispensary sales generated $1.29 million in sales tax, according to Maine Revenue Services.

The state allows one dispensary in each of Maine’s eight public health districts. Wellness Connection did not have to secure approval from the state to move within the midcoast district, but has kept state regulators up-to-date about its plans and submitted a written plan about how patients would be notified of the move, said Samantha Edwards, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Wellness Connection patients who use the Thomaston location were notified of the move this week. Patients will be transferred to the Bath facility unless the Gardiner location is more convenient. If patients cannot travel to either dispensary location, Wellness Connection will explore offering a delivery service, Rosi said.

Scott Davis, code enforcement officer for Bath, said the city does not have zoning requirements specific to medical marijuana dispensaries and considers a dispensary a retail store that sells controlled substances, similar to a Walgreens or CVS. Wellness Connection received site plan approval for changes to parking and exterior lighting, construction permits to refit the inside of the building and a sign permit, he said.

Because the building is located in the city’s historic overlay zoning district, the Wellness Connection also received Historic District approval to remove a window from the west wall of the building.

City Manager Bill Giroux said he has not heard much discussion about Wellness Connection within the community and doesn’t have concerns about its arrival in the city. He said he has heard good things about the way the dispensaries operate.

Rosi said she has not heard of opposition to the dispensary in Bath, but has only had casual discussions with some neighboring business owners. Wellness Connection officials also met with local police to talk about security protocols. She believes patients will appreciate the added security of having the police department across the parking lot from the dispensary.

“(City officials) were very welcoming and didn’t demonstrate any type of opposition,” she said. “That demonstrated a great evolution of the perception of the business we conduct.”

Rosi anticipates the Bath location will open by the end of August if construction goes as planned. She said the move to Bath is not the first time Wellness Connection has relocated a dispensary. Several years ago, the Hallowell dispensary was relocated to Gardiner.