Patients say they're troubled by two things: that Wellness Connection of Maine was using pesticides to cultivate medical marijuana, a violation of state rules, and that the dispensary operator shared confidential patient information with the state when the investigation was completed.
"Of course, this is all coming out under the guise of safety, you know?" says Brian Lee of Sebago, a former patient of the Wellness Connection. Lee says he stopped using the dispensary once he learned about the pesticide use, and that the state viewed his medical records.
"And they say that they're not retaining any of the information. So what did they use it for? Why did they need it?" he asks.
Former patient Joey Blais of West Gardiner quit using the dispensary a few months before the state's investigation even started. He says he objected to the high cost of the medicine, which he can get at a lower price from a caregiver. And now he questions why the state didn't sanction his former provider for pesticide use.
"I just here because I think there should be some repercussions against the dispensaries for mistreating the patients, like they have, misleading us all 'cause they've definitely made it clear to me that it was supposed to be organic medication in the beginning," Blais says.
The head of the state's division of licensing and regulation was unavailable for comment. In a written statement Wellness Connection says it suspended the use of pest control substances in February, and prior to that time used materials commonly applied in the industry.
The dispensary operator points out that medical marijuana is an evolving industry and says "best practices will change as data and experience dictates."