Derry Gets Proposal for Medical Marijuana Dispensary

An alternative treatment center to dispense medical marijuana is being talked about on the staff level but has not reached the Planning Board.

Robert Carr, developer of the proposed center, discussed his project with the Highway Safety Committee last week .

Carr’s proposal is for a dispensary at 10 A St., in the former Gold’s Gym building.

Derry Planning Director George Sioras said Friday that the project is still going through the staff process, including the Technical Review Committee. “We have been meeting with Mr. Carr for the past couple of months,” Sioras said.

Under a state law passed a year and a half ago, medical marijuana treatment centers are allowed in New Hampshire, Sioras said. They need to meet certain criteria and four will be allowed in the state, he said.

Sioras said one of the requirements is to set up a meeting with the local legislative body, in Derry’s case, the Town Council. He said Carr has sent a letter to Town Administrator Galen Stearns requesting a meeting.

The treatment center is a permitted use in the Industrial zone, Sioras said.

The applications for the first two centers are due at the end of January, with two more due to be approved by the summer, Sioras said.

HB 573, New Hampshire’s medical marijuana bill, was signed into law by Gov. Maggie Hassan July 23, 2013. Patients are expected to be able to access medical cannabis in mid- to late 2015.

HB 573 allows people with qualifying medical conditions to purchase up to two ounces of marijuana at a time. Up to four nonprofit ATCs (Alternative Treatment Centers) will be licensed to dispense the marijuana. The department is required to approve two ATCs by the end of this month. However, patients will not be allowed any legal protection until they obtain government-issued ID cards. Potential clients must obtain a written certification from a physician or advanced practice registered nurse, and the provider must be responsible for the patient’s qualifying condition.

Qualifying conditions are cancer, glaucoma, HIV/ AIDS, hepatitis, ALS, muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, chronic pancreatitis, spinal cord injury or disease, traumatic brain injury, and injuries that significantly interfere with daily activities.

Qualifying symptoms include elevated intraocular pressure, cachexia, chemotherapy-induced anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe pain that has not responded to other treatments, and severe pain if it produces serious side effects.

ATCs will be nonprofit. They may not be located within 1,000 feet of a drug-free zone or a school. ATCs must provide patients with information on strains and dosage. Staff must be at least 21, wear ATC-issued badges, and have no felony convictions.

ATCs cannot possess more than 80 mature plants and 80 ounces total, or three mature plants and six ounces per patient.

The law includes a prohibition for possession of marijuana on the grounds of a preschool, elementary or secondary school; in a place of employment, without written permission of the employer; in any correctional facility; in any public recreation or youth facility; and at any law enforcement facility. Marijuana cannot be used on anyone else’s property without the written permission of the property owner, or, in the case of leased property, the written permission of the tenant. It cannot be smoked on leased premises if doing so will violate the terms of the lease and it cannot be smoked or vaporized in a public place, including a public bus or other public vehicle, park, beach or field.

ATCs will be selected on a merit-based application process, including input from patients, caregivers, and the municipality where the ATC would be located.

The state will begin taking applications for the second two dispensaries in July.

Stearns said the Council has not yet received Carr’s letter and there is currently nothing in front of them to discuss.