Out of the 33 states with medical marijuana, the cannabis advocacy group Americans For Safe Access ranked Maine’s program as ninth best in the nation in 2018. And one dispensary group runs half of Maine’s dispensaries: the Wellness Connection of Maine.
With four locations in Portland, Brewer, Gardiner and Thomaston, the Wellness Connection of Maine has helped propel the state to the pinnacle of medical marijuana by prioritizing professionalism and education above all else.
“Whatever we do, from selecting decorations for the interior to thinking about our educational outreach, the goal is to support and assist patients as they get to know this medicine,” says Becky DeKeuster, the co-founder and director of community and education at the Wellness Connection.
DeKeuster says that the Wellness Connection follows a philosophy she learned while working for the Berkeley Patients Group in California. “We think of our dispensaries as community centers,” she says, “as gathering spaces that are educationally based.”
So, since its founding in 2011, the Wellness Connection has participated in city commerce meetings. They have educated physicians on the endocannabinoid system and patients on their rights when talking to physicians about cannabis. They have opened dispensaries in buildings that have sat vacant for decades to revitalize local economies. They’re looking to create a cannabis hospice program for their state’s many senior citizens. And they have donated $60,000 to charities — mostly healthcare related — across the state.
“We’re grateful that we can make these donations, but it’s about so much more than dollars and cents,” said Patricia Rosi, CEO of the Wellness Connection of Maine. “It’s about being part of and connecting with the community in positive ways.”
Upon entering one of the Wellness Connection’s four dispensaries, a patient feels the embodiment of this community-oriented philosophy, coalescing with the unique influence the state of Maine and its medical marijuana laws wield.
Maine legalized medical marijuana in 1999,