The state’s largest medical marijuana provider plans to move its downtown Hallowell dispensary to the former train station on Maine Avenue in Gardiner.

Wellness Connection of Maine, also with dispensaries in Portland, Brewer and Thomaston, applied to the Gardiner Planning Board to use the nearly century-old building between Maine Avenue and the Kennebec River as a dispensary and to make edible marijuana products, called edibles.

Nate Rudy, director of economic and community development for the city, said the proposed dispensary is allowed at the former train station. He said even though some people might have concerns about the product, the medical marijuana industry is highly regulated by the state.

“We have every confidence it will be run with the utmost attention for security and public safety,” he said. “The reality is there is a growing community of Mainers that use medical marijuana as a treatment. We welcome them to become part of our business community.”

He said the dispensary will be a good fit for the historically significant building near the downtown district because the business is well-funded and no significant renovations or changes are needed.

“I’m sure many Gardiner residents will be pleased to see this building back in productive use,” Rudy said.

The Planning Board is holding a public hearing on the site plan review application at its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. The board also is scheduled to hold a public hearing for a site plan review about a proposed hard cider brewery at the former Gardiner Congregational Church on Church Street, to discuss a proposed disc golf course and to review an application from homeowners on Arthurs Way to rebuild a potting shed in the shoreland zone.

The former train station was built in 1911 and last used by the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Gardiner for two years until 2003, when the group moved to its current location in the former elementary school on Pray Street, according to Ingrid Stanchfield, executive director of the organization.

Patricia Rosi, CEO of Wellness Connection of Maine, said the company has been looking for a larger, more accessible space for a couple of months, and the city helped the company find the right location.

“It’s a beautiful building, and we’re really excited to be part of the revitalization of the Gardiner downtown district,” she said.

The Hallowell dispensary is the on the second floor of a Water Street building. Access to it is difficult for some physically handicapped patients, Rosi said. The location in Gardiner also will allow the company to expand if needed, she said. The company serves about 5,000 patients across its four dispensaries, according to Rosi.

“We have a lot of room to grow, and we’re really looking at this location as a place that we’ll settle for a long time,” she said.

The company will be signing a five-year lease, according to the Planning Board application.

The operation will be the same as it is at the Hallowell location, besides the addition of the commercial kitchen, Rosi said. The Hallowell dispensary began offering edibles baked at Slate’s Restaurant & Bakery about six months ago, she said.

Since opening in January 2012, there haven’t been any major problems at the downtown Hallowell dispensary, Hallowell Police Chief Eric Nason said. The only incident that police responded to was an attempted break-in by two Augusta boys last November, he said. The boys, ages 14 and 15, were charged with criminal mischief for alleging breaking a window at the dispensary.

“We had nothing but cooperation with the Wellness connection since they’ve been here,” Nason said.

Rudy said all Gardiner city department heads, including the police chief, signed off on the proposal. Police Chief James Toman didn’t respond to a phone call seeking comment.

The state has allowed patients with certain debilitating conditions to grow and possess a small amount of medical marijuana since 1999, but it created the network of dispensaries in an expansion of the law in 2009, which also allowed certified caregivers to grow the plant for a limited number of patients.

The law allows a dispensary in each of the state Department of Health and Human Services’ eight public health districts, although the department is able to expand that number after a review.

John Martins, spokesman for the department, said the company notified the department of its intention to move the Hallowell dispensary, and that it is allowed to do so. The company will pay a moving fee to cover the inspection of the new site once it’s finalized, he said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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