Medical marijuana

The state health department will hold a public information meeting next week about a proposed medical marijuana dispensary in Keene.

The forum, scheduled for Wednesday, May 29, at 6 p.m., will be in the Blastos Room of Keene Ice at 380 Marlboro St.

Officials from the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services and representatives from Temescal Wellness, which plans to operate the dispensary, will be on hand to answer questions, a news release Tuesday from the state health department said.

Ted Rebholz, founder and CEO of Temescal Wellness, said last month that the clinic is slated to open in fall. It will occupy unit 1 at 69 Island St., which was previously a doctor’s office. The 2,400-square-foot space is in a complex with medical and dental practices.

Temescal already has dispensaries in Dover and Lebanon, as well as in Massachusetts and Maryland.

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. It authorized four dispensaries across the state, which led to the opening of facilities in Lebanon and Plymouth, both in Grafton County; Dover, in Strafford County; and Merrimack, in Hillsborough County.

But the locations of these clinics means Cheshire County residents have to travel far to get their prescriptions filled. 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.

The Keene dispensary will change that and may mean patients who are eligible for medical marijuana but couldn’t get to the other dispensaries will try it, Rebholz said in January.

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

N.H. Sen. Jay V. Kahn, D-Keene, had introduced an amendment to include a dispensary in either Cheshire or Sullivan counties. The bill had initially allowed only for the establishment of a new dispensary in Carroll, Coos or Grafton counties.

Data from the state’s therapeutic cannabis program show the number of local residents who use medical marijuana is growing. Between July 2017 and June 2018, almost 700 residents of Cheshire and Sullivan counties had medical marijuana cards — 370 from Cheshire County and 308 from Sullivan County — up from nearly 400 total in the previous year. That trend mirrors the growth in registered medical marijuana users in the state.

Liora Engel-Smith can be reached at 352-1234,

extension 1439, or lsmith

@keenesentinel.com.

Follow her on Twitter

@LEngelSmithKS.