| Posted on Thu, March, 29th 2012 by THCFinder
PORTLAND -- The city's first medical marijuana dispensary, in a nondescript brick building at the end of an alley off Congress Street, opened for business Wednesday.
The dispensary, behind the Local 188 restaurant, is a well-lit, modern facility with bright green walls, light wood floors, a coffee and tea bar and, behind a counter that will soon hold marijuana pipes and rolling papers, a "community area" for patients, and rooms for acupuncture and reiki treatments.
Plans to mount birch tree halves to a wall, similar to a decoration in Wellness Connection of Maine's dispensary in Hallowell, ran afoul of Portland's fire code and had to be abandoned, but a white outline of trees is painted on one wall, awaiting the artist's finishing touches.
Rebecca DeKeuster, executive director of the nonprofit company that runs the dispensary, said the idea of the design is to create a setting where patients and caregivers can get natural medication and the goal is patient-centered care.
The fact that the medication is marijuana, which is illegal under federal law but allowed under Maine's medical marijuana act, is intended to be relatively incidental.
DeKeuster said she expects the dispensary to eventually have about 100 patients a month coming in for marijuana, which can help cancer patients -- particularly those who have nausea and appetite problems from radiation or chemical treatments -- and people who have chronic pain.
A handful of patients showed up for the Portland dispensary's opening, which occurred with little fanfare Wednesday. DeKeuster said she asked the patients if they would be willing to be interviewed for this story, but they all declined.
DeKeuster said the dispensary has a range of marijuana strains to offer. Some offer a stimulating effect to a person's system, triggering a better appetite, for instance. Others are calming and designed to help ease pain.
The marijuana can either be smoked -- a vaporizer is the preferred method, DeKeuster said -- or delivered in liquid form. The liquid, she said, is easy to use if patients prefer to ingest the marijuana in food or drink, such as a cup of tea,
Patients who come in with a doctor's "recommendation" for marijuana -- prescriptions aren't allowed for drugs that are illegal under federal law -- walk up to a locked outer door, controlled by a receptionist just inside. The small waiting room leads to the large community room, with access controlled by a keypad.