AUGUSTA — Maine’s largest medical marijuana dispensary has signed a deal for new financing it says will allow it to open its first Maine dispensary in “a couple weeks.”

The Wellness and Pain Management Connection LLC is lending Northeast Patients Group $1.6 million over eight years at 8.5 percent annual interest, according to documents provided to the Kennebec Journal by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

A database search for the Wellness and Pain Management Connection LLC found that the limited-liability company was formed only Wednesday in Delaware, the day the agreement with Northeast was finalized.

The collective is composed of The Farmacy, based in West Hollywood, Calif., and Cuttino Mobley, a former NBA, Universty of Rhode Island and Maine Central Institute basketball player, according to state documents.

JoAnna LaForce is the owner and co-founder of The Farmacy, which operates a chain of marijuana dispensaries in California.

According to the term sheet released Thursday, LaForce will “oversee and support delivery of certain consulting and related services.”

Northeast’s executive director Becky DeKeuster said Thursday that The Farmacy “came to us in the fall after seeing our applications, and we formed a very strong relationship.”

Mobley, a former NBA basketball player who signed a letter of intent with Northeast in February, was widely thought to be the sole financier helping Northeast get its struggling operation off the ground.

That February letter, now presumably off the table, outlined a much harsher agreement — a $2 million loan to Northeast over seven years, paid back at 18 percent interest per year.

Northeast — which holds exclusive licenses to operate four of Maine’s eight appproved marijuana dispensaries, including three in the state’s larger markets, Portland, Bangor and Augusta — says the new money will help it open its first dispensary, in Thomaston, “within weeks.”

The plan must stand up through a review process from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Catherine Cobb, director of the DHHS’ Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services, has said her office doesn’t object to out-of-state funding.

However, the new deal calls into question whether Northeast Patients Group is now a substantially different organization from the one whose application landed it half the state’s medical marijuana market.

John Martins, a spokesman for DHHS, said the new agreement will be evaluated “as it pertains to the rules” outlined in statutes, but that review process wouldn’t stop Northeast from opening dispensaries.

He said the review, to be handled by staff at the Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services, would focus on the state’s mandate that dispensary operators have a “mission of being a nonprofit.”

New financial projections from Northeast are far less rosy than in its initial applications, which won them the exclusive right to run half the state’s marijuana dispensaries.

“When we first put our applications in, we really didn’t know what we were doing,” DeKeuster said Thursday.

A July 20 projection for the group’s four dispensaries said that, in the first full year of operation, Northeast expected to serve 540 patients and lose more than $1.75 million. In the second year, the July 20 projection said Northeast would serve 1,150 and make over $1 million.

In its original applications, filed in 2010, Northeast projected a net gain of more than $426,000 while serving 691 patients in its first full year. In the second year, it said it would serve 1,119 and net nearly $1.4 million.

DeKeuster acknowledged a lot has changed since Northeast first applied to operate four of Maine’s marijuana dispensaries — including L.D. 1296, signed in June by Gov. Paul LePage, which liberalized much of the state’s medical marijuana law.

Also, growth in the program has skyrocketed.

In November 2010, a 2011 annual report said 109 patients were enrolled. By March, it said there were 773 patients. In mid-June, Thiele said, 1,800 patients were approved.

DeKeuster said all four of Northeast’s dispensaries should be open within the year — starting with Thomaston in “a couple weeks.”

A growing facility opened there in June after a state inspection. Upon opening, it’s expected to supply every Northeast dispensary.

DeKeuster said Thursday that leases are in the works on properties in Portland, Kennebec County and the Bangor area.

She declined comment when asked which municipalities Northeast is targeting in the latter two districts, but said the Kennebec County site is “right here in the Augusta area.”

Officials in the capital haven’t been approached recently about a specific site, according Matt Nazar, deputy development director for the city of Augusta.

If locating in Augusta, Northeast would have to find a site within the city’s medical district, which runs on both sides of Old Belgrade Road between Interstate 95 and Middle Road, Nazar said.

Northeast was planning to open a dispensary in Augusta at 10 Middle Road, which was proposed to be included in the Medical District; but the Planning Board voted 6-2 in August 2010 to remove the site after neighbors objected to the prospect of a dispensary in what they described as a residential neighborhood.

Hallowell City Manager Michael Starn said “nobody’s come here” regarding a dispensary. At an April 2010 City Council meeting, there was discussion about having a possible moratorium on dispensaries, but no action was taken, he said.

In Bangor, Code Enforcement Officer Dan Wellington said his office hasn’t had official contact with DeKeuster since April.

After signing a deal with Mobley in February, DeKeuster quit her job as New England expansion director with Berkeley Patients Group, Northeast’s former California-based backer.

Berkeley then sued Northeast and DeKeuster in Cumberland County Superior Court on July 6, saying DeKeuster used confidential information to undermine her partnership with Berkeley. Berkeley seeks more than $630,000 in loans it says Northeast didn’t pay back, and it also wants the court to order DeKeuster to leave Northeast.

Mobley owns rights to a dispensary in Rhode Island, where Gov. Lincoln Chafee has halted the program amid potential conflicts with federal law.

Michael Shepherd — 621-5662

[email protected]

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