May 4—In its first few weeks of business, Keene's medical marijuana dispensary has seen more than 100 patients, according to a company official.
Temescal Wellness — which also has dispensaries in Lebanon and Dover, in addition to several Massachusetts locations — opened its Keene site at 69 Island St. on April 17.
The dispensary requires all patients to have a state-issued medical marijuana card, and offers a variety of cannabis products, including flower (the smokable part of the plant), concentrates and edibles.
Sian Leininger, Temescal's New Hampshire director of retail, said that so far, the Keene dispensary has seen mostly people who were previously driving to its Lebanon location nearly 70 miles away.
They "now don't have to make that hour-long commute, so our team has been really great about making that transition smooth for them," she said.
New Hampshire's medical marijuana law — which has been in effect since 2013, with the first dispensaries opening in 2016 — legalized the use of cannabis for a limited number of medical conditions and with strict permitting. Those conditions include moderate to severe chronic pain, moderate to severe post-traumatic stress disorder and certain symptoms brought on by cancer, muscular dystrophy, Crohn's disease and other diagnoses.
When applying for a card, New Hampshire residents must choose one of the state's three authorized dispensary companies to pick up medical marijuana from. If someone has already chosen Temescal's other site in Lebanon, they will now also be able to pick up in Keene because the two locations are owned by the same company, according to the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services.
People can change their dispensary company by submitting a form to the state health department's therapeutic cannabis program, which can be found on its website at https://bit.ly/2RqvcNr.
In addition to existing clients, Temescal's Keene location has also had a few newcomers, according to Leininger. And overall, she said a majority of patients are from the Monadnock Region.
"It's been really great to see some familiar faces and also some new faces that weren't close enough or didn't have proper transportation to get to one of our other facilities," Leininger said.
The most popular product at the new location, she said, has been flower, similar to what Temescal sees at its other sites.
"It's so different person to person, and that's really why we offer such a variety of products," Leininger said. "... It all comes back to what they are comfortable with."
And while the Keene site has seen a steady flow of patients to start, the company hopes to continue to grow its clientele, she added. But the trouble with that is many people don't realize the new location is open, Leininger explained.
She said this is mostly because new patients usually learn about dispensaries primarily through word of mouth.
The opening of Keene's site came roughly two years after Temescal founder and CEO Ted Rebholz told The Sentinel that the dispensary was due to open in autumn 2019, but the opening was pushed due to several hiccups in the process.
Temescal received approval from the state to operate in Cheshire County after Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill authorizing additional dispensaries in May 2018.
N.H. Sen. Jay V. Kahn, D-Keene, had introduced an amendment to include a dispensary in either Cheshire County or Sullivan County. The bill had initially allowed only for the establishment of a new dispensary in Carroll County, Coos County or Grafton County.
"The biggest barrier is people not knowing that the program is there and can help them," Leininger said. "I think that will happen pretty gradually over time, and we'll kind of slowly build our patient base."
Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.