Medical marijuana

In spring 2019, a company official said a medical marijuana dispensary was slated to open in Keene sometime that fall. More than a year after he made that projection, the business has yet to open, and the timeline for it doing so is unclear.

Ted Rebholz, founder and CEO of Temescal Wellness, told The Sentinel in April 2019 that the dispensary was due to open that autumn at 69 Island St.

Since then, Temescal has not provided any specifics on when the dispensary will open, despite multiple inquiries via email from The Sentinel over the past eight months.

Keene City Manager Elizabeth Dragon said in an email June 23 that the city’s community development department received a building application for the dispensary from Temescal Wellness in June 2019.

After a few plan reviews, she said, the city was waiting only on a plumber’s sign-off to issue a permit, but hasn’t heard anything from the company since September. Meanwhile, under state law, Temescal Wellness remains the only company authorized to open a dispensary in this area.

In response to an email inquiry last week from The Sentinel seeking an update on the dispensary, Temescal spokeswoman Linda Katz said the company doesn’t have a timeline for the project. She also referenced the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, although its effects weren’t widespread in New Hampshire until March.

The company has “had to adapt our operations to reflect the ever changing new normal of serving the public in a brick and mortar location,” Katz wrote in an email June 25. “These operational changes will require us to reassess the layout and design of our proposed Keene location to accommodate required social distancing for both patients and staff.”

She added that the company — which has dispensaries in Dover and Lebanon, as well as Massachusetts and Maryland — remains “cautious but optimistic that the health and safety protocols we and other businesses have put in place will allow the economy to continue to open up.”

Rebholz was not reachable by phone Tuesday.

New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law — which has been in effect since 2013 — legalized the use of cannabis for a limited number of medical conditions and with strict permitting.

If Temescal Wellness opens in Keene, it will be the first dispensary in Cheshire County.

Currently, the two closest options for people in the Monadnock Region are the dispensaries in Merrimack, almost 50 miles from Keene, and in Lebanon, nearly 70 miles away.

Temescal received approval from the state to operate in Cheshire County after Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill authorizing additional dispensaries last May.

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.

Jake Leon, a spokesman for the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services, said Temescal holds the license for Cheshire County, and the current law would not allow another licensee to operate there.

Leon added that there are license revocation provisions in the original law, which does not include Cheshire County. The only foreseeable recourse available would be for the Legislature to change the law, he said.