Demonstrators say that a recent consent agreement between the firm and the state didn't go far enough.

April 5, 2013

Protesters rally against Maine marijuana dispensary

By PAUL KOENIG Kennebec Journal

HALLOWELL – About 30 protesters, many of whom said they use medical marijuana, made impassioned speeches Friday about their experience with Wellness Connection of Maine and the fledgling medical-marijuana industry.

click image to enlarge

Mike Reynolds, of Lewiston, speaks during Wellness Connection a protest on Friday April 5, 2013 in the middle of Dummers Lane in Hallowell.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Some in the crowd handed out marijuana products, including lollipops and vials of liquid containing THC, the drug's main psychoactive ingredient. Others smoked a marijuana cigarette.

Brian Lee, 44, of Sebago, a former patient of Wellness Connection, said he stopped using one of its four dispensaries when he learned that the company had violated state law by using pesticides on some of its products.

"They're treating us like we don't know any better," Lee shouted at the back entrance to Wellness Connection's Hallowell dispensary. "They're treating us like we don't know anything."

A recent state investigation of Wellness Connection, Maine's largest medical-marijuana dispensary group, revealed a long list of violations of state law and program rules, including pesticide use.

The Department of Health and Human Services required the company to sign a consent agreement that says it must stop using pesticides, provide weekly status updates and be subject to unannounced visits from the department, said Kenneth Albert, director of the DHHS Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services. Wellness Connection also must notify patients in writing that pesticides were applied to the marijuana before it sells the drug to them.

The protesters who gathered Friday don't think the state went far enough. Many want the company to stop operating in Maine.

"As far as I'm concerned, Wellness, get the hell out of the state," said Steve Brown of Richmond, a medical marijuana user who was in a wheelchair.

 

Paul Koenig can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

pkoenig@mainetoday.com

 

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