Medical marijuana group submits financing plan to state

Posted Aug. 15, 2011, at 6:48 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The nonprofit group that will operate half of Maine’s eight medical marijuana dispensaries submitted its updated financial plans to the state on Monday and aims to open its first storefront in Thomaston next month.

Northeast Patients Group said it has secured $1.6 million in financing by partnering with a Rhode Island-based group headed by former pro basketball player Cuttino Mobley.

Catherine Cobb, head of licensing for the state Department of Health and Human Services, provided a copy of the agreement, which outlines in detail Northeast Patients Group’s plans.

Mobley’s group will provide $1.6 million in capital to be paid back over eight years at 8.5 percent annual interest. Mobley will provide medical marijuana supplies and also will consult on security, cultivation, marketing and public relations, according to the agreement.

In addition to Thomaston, Northeast Patients Group holds licenses for dispensaries in the Bangor area, Thomaston, Kennebec County and in the Portland market.

The financing agreement comes about a month after a lawsuit was filed against Northeast Patients Group by its former financial partner, Berkeley Patients Group out of California. The suit claims that Northeast Patients Group Executive Director Rebecca DeKeuster breached terms of her contract by using inside information to cut a deal with Mobley.

DeKuester resigned on Feb. 24 from her position as Berkeley Patients Group’s New England expansion director, just one day after she reportedly signed a letter of intent for Northeast Patients Group to partner with Mobley’s Rhode Island-based center.

The lawsuit, filed July 6 in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland, charges DeKeuster with breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and seeks $632,000 in lost investments and related costs.

Mobley, 35, played in the NBA for 11 years mostly as a member of the Houston Rockets and then the Los Angeles Clippers. Before that, he was a college basketball star at the University of Rhode Island, but he also spent a year at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield before enrolling at URI in the mid-1990s.

Since he retired from his basketball career, Mobley has been active in the medical marijuana industry. He is the sole financial backer of the Summit Compassion Center, a dispensary planned for the Providence, R.I., area that is on hold amid concerns about conflicting state and federal laws governing medical marijuana.

Northeast Patients Group already has launched its marijuana growing operation in Thomaston and plans to supply all four of its clinics and more than 1,000 patients across the state from that facility.

Maine has three other licensed medical marijuana dispensaries — in Ellsworth, Biddeford and Auburn — that are open and dispensing medical marijuana. A growing facility also is operating in Frenchville, but a location for the affiliated retail dispensary has yet to be determined.

The lawsuit against Northeast Patients Group is pending and does not affect its licenses, according to Cobb.

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