PORTLAND, Maine — The Wellness Connection of Maine doesn’t look like a cannabis cafe. But starting this month, customers can indulge in pumpkin blueberry loafs laced with pot to ease their pain.
The Portland-based medical marijuana dispensary is collaborating with Slates Restaurant and Bakery in Hallowell to offer “medibles” to its 5,000 certified patients in addition to whole flower cannabis and tinctures.
“We want our patients to have access to the medication that they need in the form that is best for them,” said Becky DeKeuster, founder of Wellness Connection of Maine. “It’s another option that should be available.”
The state’s largest dispensary, with locations in Portland, Hallowell, Thomaston and Brewer, expects to sell approximately 1,000 “medibles” per month. Each peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie and mini loaf is equivalent to four to eight doses of marijuana and are $12 each.
The new line of products are state approved and regulated under Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services. Cognizant of sending the wrong message, the dispensary created understated branding that’s more clinical than kitschy. It packages “medibles” in childproof containers.
“This is medicine,” DeKeuster stressed. “This is not dessert.”
So far, the nonprofit is producing around 500 “medibles” per week at the Hallowell bakery, where they rent kitchen space off hours. Security measures have been beefed up, including the installation of video cameras and increased police surveillance.
“I believe in the benefits of medical cannabis,” said Slates owner Wendy Larson in a prepared statement. “But I don’t like the idea of smoking. So if I can help provide relief by developing quality recipes, that makes me happy.”
The bakers helped create the recipes that infuses the drug with butter and oil. DeKeuster said that the bakers are not handling the cannabis or selling the potent pastries.
Patients suffering from fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer take regular doses of cannabis to relieve symptoms. Ingesting cannabis orally, instead of smoking or using a vaporizer has a longer effect, up to eight hours, according to DeKeuster.
For people like Ben Newell, a patient and member liaison at the Wellness Connection of Maine, the powerful treats are a godsend.
Since the “medibles” became available, he no longer has to make his own cannabis-infused tomato sauce at home to relieve gastrointestinal aches and pains. His bloating has lessened, and he finds the lasting relief beneficial.
“It’s a significant boon to me and others,” he said. “The $12 price tag on one cookie seems scary, but it’s more cost effective because one cookie lasts a week.”
These are the first products in what the Wellness Connection of Maine hopes is a creative endeavor with the popular Hallowell bakery.
“We have some very interesting plans. We are experimenting with granola bars, lozenges and savory crackers,” said DeKeuster, who worked with bakers for months to get the right texture and taste.
Though clients have been asking for edible cannabis cakes for some time, DeKeuster said this is not intended to be a moneymaker.
“It’s an intake mechanism that will provide more options for patients,” she said. “Our clients are very, very excited.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story requires correction. Wellness Connection of Maine has locations in Portland, Hallowell, Thomaston and Brewer, not in Augusta.