The headline last Thursday read “Plans hazy on opening timeline.” Our accompanying story — about the disappearing plans of the only business authorized to open a medical marijuana dispensary in this area — might be enough to cause a chuckle over whether the haziness results from something the company’s officials are smoking, if the impact on those in need of therapeutic cannabis wasn’t so severe.
The course of legalized medical marijuana in New Hampshire has been a slow one. Though the prescribing and dispensing of cannabis for a limited number of medical conditions was first authorized in 2013, the state, under then-Gov. Maggie Hassan, moved deliberately, to put it mildly. Since 2016, when the state eventually granted licenses for so-called alternative treatment centers, the nearest to this corner of the state have been in Merrimack and Lebanon. This leaves most area residents facing a round-trip drive of up to at least two, and in some cases three, hours to receive prescribed treatment. As the types of uses the state has authorized cannabis for include treating cancer, ALS and other debilitating illnesses and easing serious pain, such a drive is as much — or more — an ordeal as it is an extreme inconvenience.
A breakthrough seemed to have been reached in 2018 when the Legislature amended the law to authorize dispensaries in certain underserved areas, including one for Cheshire and Sullivan counties. By January 2019, Temescal Wellness, which operates the Lebanon center, as well as one in Dover and others in Massachusetts, announced plans to open a Keene dispensary at 69 Island St., and in April 2019 stated it would open in the fall. At a public information session held a month later, a Temescal representative outlined plans to renovate the space by mid-summer last