Prime ATC cuts med pot prices

·3 min read

Jul. 7—CHICHESTER — Prime Alternative Treatment Centers, one of the three dispensaries for medical marijuana, is cutting its prices for cannabis flower by as much as 15%, company officials announced Tuesday.

The firm, with locations in Merrimack and Chichester, also named as its new director of public and governmental relations the activist who had been the prime lobbyist for efforts here and up to a dozen other states to legalize recreational use.

Matt Simon's last day as senior legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project was last Thursday. He joined the Prime ATC staff the following day.

"I never really imagined I would want to work for a cannabis business," Simon said.

"Over time I have realized there is a lot riding on this program and patients are absolutely dependent on these three entities. Prime really impressed me; I think they are really in it for all the right reasons."

Sanctuary ATC operates two locations in Plymouth and Conway; Temescal Wellness has three in Dover, Lebanon and Keene.

Prime CEO Keenan Blum said the price of medical marijuana for his clients was the most-often cited complaint, since these patients don't get any of the costs covered by health insurance and have to pay for the product out of pocket.

The same product not scientifically made or certified as safe is sold for less in the illegal, black market, and can also be bought for less in some other states with medical marijuana programs such as Maine, according to state officials.

"Late last year, we completed a much-needed expansion of our cultivation space in Peterborough, which more than doubled our capacity to produce cannabis flower. Our talented growers have been working hard to fine-tune the expanded operations, improving both quality and efficiency," Blum said.

At the end of May, there were 11,948 patients enrolled in the state-related, Therapeutic Cannabis program and 37% of them (4,472) were signed up with Prime.

"We are now able to grow more high-quality flower at a lower cost than before, and we have developed a new pricing structure that will pass our lower costs on to patients in the form of lower prices," Blum said.

The company now offers strains in three tiers based on efficiency and customer preferences with the lowest-priced tier (silver) selling at $45 for 3.5 grams an up to $285 for an ounce (28 grams).

Simon said this represents about a 15% decline; the second tier (gold) is selling for about 10% less.

"This certainly gets us closer though, not all the way there that we want to be," Simon said.

Patients still have to travel some distance

The state's seven dispensaries is a small number even considering its size, Simon said; Prime opened Chichester's location recently, while Temescal added its Keene location last May.

"Whoever the vendor, every time we open a new location, that's a lot less that people have to drive to get their medication and makes things easier," Simon said.

In 2013, Simon led the campaign for New Hampshire to legalize medical marijuana.

Then four years later, Simon was on the front lines of the law Gov. Chris Sununu signed that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use down to a $100 fine on the first offense.

While Simon traveled across the east coast working on other states, he lived in New Hampshire the entire time except for five months when he lived in Vermont and worked to convince that state's Legislature to make recreational use legal.

"I kind of missed good old New Hampshire, just being here working on an issue that's important to me, but now it's for one of the companies really making a difference," Simon said.

"It's been a wild ride."

klandrigan@unionleader.com

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