Elevation Station, a new medical marijuana dispensary, opens in Jefferson in August.
Brad Dostie of Gardiner and Robert “Bobby” Gagnon of Jefferson are equal partners in this endeavor.
Dostie brings retail experience as well as computer and security expertise to the partnership. He owned a glass gallery in Gardiner, where he sold pipes and accessories for smoking. And he worked for computer technology company Dell for over 20 years.
Gagnon has been growing marijuana as a Licensed Caregiver for over 12 years.
Marijuana was legalized for medical use in Maine in 1999, and Gagnon has grown marijuana long enough to remember the pushback. “We used to have to hide it a lot,” he said. “Now people actually accept it more.”
Gagnon said he had some patients for eight or nine years. He even drives over an hour and a half to Madison every month to bring an elderly patient the Rick Simpson Oil, which she takes orally to relieve her pain.
Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO, is named for the man who first invented it. It is a whole plant extract recommended for people whose condition benefits from a high dose of THC.
“If she doesn’t get it, the bones in her body ache,” said Gagnon.
While Gagnon was considering opening a store last year, things got rolling when Dostie stepped aboard.
Jefferson doesn’t have any ordinances banning the sale of marijuana for medical purposes, so the two of them got a permit and began renovating the plaza at 132 Waldoboro Road a few months ago.
Gagnon already had an existing lease on the site which he said he sees 4,000 cars traveling between Waldoboro and Augusta every day.
Their business has little in common with the stereotypical “head shops” of the past, which traditionally sold accessories for cannabis consumption.
“The business is stigmatized. We want to prove that is wrong, ”said Dostie. “Our focus is on professionalism and the care of patients and their needs.”
“Tobacco kills people, alcohol kills people. Marijuana doesn’t kill people, ”he said. “It relieves the symptoms. If someone can use medical cannabis and not take an opioid, that is a win for us. “
Dostie said that since the Department of Health and Social Affairs approved medical marijuana dispensaries, he has been focusing more on cannabis dispensaries as a mass market business.
“People see these dollar signs and a lot of people come here from other states,” Dostie said. “All of the commercialization of marijuana … I don’t believe in that. It’s a drug. And people shouldn’t just get high and mess with something they don’t know about. “
Dostie said education is key. He advises caution, especially with edibles that take longer to get into the bloodstream, which can make the effects harder to control. He suggests that patients start with the minimally effective dose.
Gagnon said Elevation Station was more of a “cannabis-craft” business.
“If people need a high CBD nug or high THC or indica, we can grow that. That is why we are more there for the patient. We can have that in the grow for the next run, ”he said.
A “nug” is a small bud of high quality cannabis from the marijuana flower. Indica is a special strain of marijuana.
“What I want to know is ‘What do you need?'” Said Dostie. If a patient’s doctor recommends taking oral cannabis, Dostie may recommend an edible form. If smoking is the recommended form, he asks if the customer is a smoker, “because if you don’t smoke cigarettes and smoke marijuana, it doesn’t feel good.”
Dostie wants people to be careful that, like many other medicines, people should not operate machines, including cars, after ingesting or inhaling cannabis. Dostie said the product is not allowed to be consumed on the premises.
The shop will stock a variety of products, from marijuana to THC-containing edibles to CBD-based products such as tinctures and ointments for pain relief. And dog treats help relieve pain in dogs. Glass smoking pipes, papers, incense sticks, and clothing items will also be available.
Dostie said they have set up an office above the store where weekly visits from a nurse are scheduled.
Elevation Station employs three assistants, all with guardian IDs, who have all passed state-mandated background exams. According to Dostie, employees are familiar with the latest laws and check IDs every time.
Citing the fact that the Office of Marijuana Policy is a relatively new agency for the state, Dostie said they are vigilant to keep track of applicable laws.
“We don’t want to break the rules, but the hardest thing about this industry is that the rules haven’t been written. Or they will change tomorrow, ”said Dostie.
Construction work on the building is about to be completed. Dostie points out the ramp, wide doors, low door handle, and counter. His focus is on the accessibility of the shop.
“This is not a requirement,” said Dostie. “This is to improve access for all,” said Dostie.
Elevation Station will focus on the “real meaning” of medical cannabis, which for him means access for all.
“We don’t ask why you need it, we just ask what helps you,” he said.
The Elevation Station is scheduled to open on Saturday, August 28th and will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.