The Wellness Connection Admits to Several Rules Violations, Agrees to State’s Terms to Remain Open
AUGUSTA – The use of pesticides in the growing of medical marijuana, the lack of proper security and the production and sale of an illegal form of marijuana were among more than 20 violations of state rules governing medical marijuana that were uncovered during a month-long investigation of the Wellness Connection of Maine.
Established in 2011, Wellness Connection of Maine operates four of Maine’s eight state-licensed, non-profit, medical cannabis dispensaries
The Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services (DLRS), which oversees the Maine Medical Marijuana Program, shared the results of the investigation with officials from the Wellness Connection in Auburn early Monday.
The dispensaryhas agreed to the terms and conditions required by State Regulators in order for the business to remain open.
The Wellness Connection has dispensaries in Brewer, Hallowell, Thomaston and Portland and grows marijuana in Auburn and Thomaston.
DLRS Director Kenneth Albert said that the investigation of the Wellness Connection began at the Auburn grow site, but was extended to all of the company’s facilities.
The end result was a laundry list of violations, the most serious of which included the use of pesticides in the growing operation.
“Part of our agreement with the Wellness Connection is the requirement that all patients will be notified that pesticides have been used and that this practice will cease immediately,” Albert said.
The dispensary will be allowed to keep its existing medical marijuana available for purchase, but patients will be given a notice describing the nine pesticides until the state is confident the marijuana being sold is pesticide-free.
In addition, prior customers who purchased the tainted medical marijuana will be mailed a similar notice.
Although many of the pesticides appear to be organic, program rules don’t distinguish between organic and non-organic pesticides, Albert said.
“The use of pesticides on medical marijuana is not allowed by state law, as the harmful effect of pesticides when ignited and inhaled is not imminently known.” Albert said DLRS identified nine pesticides that were on marijuana that was used in tinctures, baker’s mix and all strains dispensed by the Wellness Connection.
In addition, Albert said that the company was selling keif, which is not permissible under state law. Keif refers to the resin crystals of cannabis, which may accumulate in containers or be sifted from loose dry cannabis buds. It contains a much higher concentrate of psychoactive cannabinoids than medicinal marijuana, said Albert.
There were many other violations listed in the Statement of Deficiencies pertaining to security, governance, inventory control and disposal of unused products. The agreement between DLRS and the Wellness Connection is designed to ensure the safety of medical marijuana patients and is in effect for two years.
As part of the agreement, the Wellness Connection must submit weekly status reports until the program is in full compliance with all conditions.
“We will be extremely active in assuring that the Wellness Connection abides by the rules governing the medical marijuana program,’’ Albert said.