BREWER, Maine — Members of the Wellness Connection of Maine’s medical marijuana dispensary in Brewer had a chance Friday to check out the improvements made to the facility over the past two months.
For starters, the facility’s entrance was shifted to one end of its leased space, allowing the company to enclose it and to improve the facility’s security, Becky DeKeuster, founder and director of community and education for Wellness Connections, said while leading a tour.
A new 15-by-20-foot addition at the back of the building provides space for meetings, seminars, yoga and cooking classes, and for alternative health treatments, such as massage and reiki, she said.
The changes to the facility, which opened in May 2012, were unveiled during a two-hour reception for members and staff.
To celebrate the improvements, the clinic brought in Mike and Tawni Boutin, two stars of the Discovery Channel’s pot-centered reality show “Weed Country.” Until recently, the Boutins grew medical marijuana on their farm in California. They have more than 35 years of experience in the field.
The fans they encountered in Brewer were delighted to meet them in person.
Among them was Shannon Thomas of Hermon, who took selfies with the Boutins and had a bystander snap a few more shots.
“I love the show. I think it’s awesome, it’s very informative,” Thomas said after the photo session.
Thomas, who did not know the Boutins were appearing locally, said he initially thought Tawni Boutin looked familiar when they chatted near the entrance to the facility’s retail area. When he also saw Mike Boutin, it clicked.
A medical marijuana card holder, Thomas said cannabis helped his 67-year-old grandfather maintain his appetite while he was battling cancer in the mid-1990s and his father asked him to obtain it for his grandfather because there was no legal means for doing so at the time. The fight for access to the healing weed continues today in some states, he noted.
“For anybody to deny someone a natural treatment is just, what word would I use, I just don’t understand,” he said Friday. “They want you to take this, they want you to take the drug, the big-bucks drugs, and they want you to keep on coming.”
Wellness Connection of Maine operates four of the state’s eight licensed nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries, which combined serve 5,500 patients. The other locations are in Portland, Thomaston and Hallowell.
When it opened, Wellness Connections of Maine’s Brewer facility had a 30-patient waiting list. It now serves 1,500 members from Penobscot and several surrounding counties, senior dispensary manager Paul Gervais said Friday.
The average patient at Wellness Connection is about 54 years old, DeKeuster said. She said the dispensaries offer the medicinal marijuana in numerous strains and a variety of forms for consumption: smokeable, cannabis butters, tinctures, baked goods and lozenges, as well as pipes, vaporizers and other means.
The Brewer facility and others operated by Wellness Connection of Maine are not open to the public. All patients must go through an intake process — to check documentation — when they first register.
The Boutins will appear at the Spectacular Event Center in Bangor from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday as part of Mike Boutin’s “Do you wanna grow some?” tour, which aims to teach those considering growing medical marijuana the ins and outs of the business.
For information on tickets and what the seminar will cover, visit www.mikeboutin.com. The next stop on the tour is at the Holiday Inn Portland-By the Bay in Portland on Aug. 17.
For information about Wellness Connection, visit www.mainewellness.org or call 370-4833.