HALLOWELL — The operator of central Maine’s medical marijuana dispensary says it is on track to open by the end of the month.

At first, however, the dispensary will serve patients only by appointment. Patients with prescriptions will not be able to walk in and buy medication until sometime later, Northeast Patients Group Executive Director Becky DeKeuster said.

“As all of the dispensary operators are finding out, this is inventory-driven,” she said. “It’s not something that we can churn out in a day, so we’re all building up our inventory.”

Northeast Patients Group began growing marijuana in May in Thomaston, where it also operates a dispensary that opened in September.

Northeast also has licenses to operate dispensaries in Portland and Bangor; those have not opened.

Contractors in Halllowell are preparing the second-floor space above the Liberal Cup in Hallowell for the dispensary. Most of the money for renovations has gone into security, though the parking lot behind the building was also resurfaced, and there will be interior design work to do, DeKeuster said.

“We have been blessed with very attentive and diligent contractors,” DeKeuster said. “As soon as contractors are out and security system is in and fully tested, we’ll be ready to open.”

DeKeuster declined to name the contractors doing the work.

Northeast did not have to file any permits with the city for the type of renovations involved.

Hallowell Police Chief Eric Nason is also preparing for the dispensary’s opening, though he does not expect it to have much of an impact on public safety.

“It’s all new to us, and I think there’s going to be learning curves like there would be with any new business,” he said.

Many of the thefts and other crimes in Hallowell are related to drugs — but it’s almost all prescription drugs, Nason said.

“As much as marijuana has been used over such a long period of time, you certainly don’t see the crimes that you would see as the result of the abuse of prescription drugs,” he said.

Nason does not believe marijuana is necessarily a “gateway” to harder drugs.

Biddeford’s police chief was not aware of a dispensary in his city when a reporter called earlier this month.

Ellsworth’s Chief John Deleo said he’d had no complaints since Maine Organic Therapy opened there several months ago.

“About the only thing that’s been written up on them is (officers will) see a car there at night and it’ll turn out to be the owner’s car or the manager’s car,” Deleo said. “So far, it’s as if it doesn’t exist.”

The Ellsworth dispensary serves Hancock and Washington counties, so they do a lot of deliveries in addition to some walk-in business, Deleo said.

DeKeuster said Northeast’s dispensary in Hallowell will start with two employees, but will have five or six within a year. Northeast’s administrative staff likely will have offices there, for a total of up to 10 people working in the space.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]

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