Elevation Station, a new medical marijuana dispensary, will open in Jefferson in August.
Brad Dostie, of Gardiner and Robert “Bobby” Gagnon, of Jefferson are equal partners in the endeavor.
Dostie brings retail experience and computer and security expertise to the partnership. He owned a glass gallery in Gardiner where he sold pipes and accessories used for smoking. And he worked for computer technology company Dell for over 20 years.
Gagnon has grown marijuana for over 12 years as a licensed caregiver for much of that time.
Marijuana was legalized in Maine for medical use in 1999 and Gagnon has been growing marijuana long enough to remember the pushback. “We had to hide it a lot back in the day,” he said. “Now people are actually accepting it more.”
Gagnon said he’s had some patients for as long as eight or nine years. He even drives over an hour and a half to Madison every month to bring one elderly female patient the Rick Simpson Oil that she takes orally to relieve her pain.
Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO, is named after the man who first concocted 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 hurt,” Gagnon said.
While Gagnon was contemplating opening a shop for the last year, things got rolling once Dostie came on board.
Jefferson has no ordinances prohibiting selling marijuana for medical purposes, so the pair obtained a permit and began renovations on the space at 132 Waldoboro Road several months ago.
Gagnon already had an existing lease for the location which he said sees 4,000 cars traveling between Waldoboro and Augusta daily.
Their business has little in common with the stereotypical “head shops” of the past that traditionally sold accessories for cannabis use.
“There’s a stigma attached to the business. We want to prove that wrong,” Dostie said. “Our focus is on professionalism and taking care of the patients and what they need.”
“Tobacco kills people, alcohol kills people. Marijuana doesn’t kill people,” he said. “It alleviates symptoms. If someone can use medical cannabis and not take an opioid, that’s a win for us.”
Dostie said that since the Department of Health and Human Services approved medical marijuana dispensaries he’s seen more focus on cannabis dispensaries as a mass market business.
“People see these dollar signs and there’s a lot of out-of-state people coming in here,” Dostie said. “The whole commercialism of marijuana … I don’t believe in that. It is a medicine. And people shouldn’t just go get high and mess with something they don’t know about.”
Dostie said that education is key. He recommends caution particularly with edibles which take longer to enter the bloodstream so the effect can be harder to control. He suggests that patients start with the minimum effective dose.
Gagnon said that Elevation Station is more of a “craft cannabis” business.
“If people need a high CBD nug or high THC or indica, we can grow that. That’s why we’re more for the patient. Next run we can have that in the grow,” he said.
A “nug” is a small bud of high quality cannabis from the marijuana flower. Indica is a particular strain of marijuana.
“What I want to know is ‘what do you need?’” Dostie said. If a patient’s doctor recommends taking oral cannabis, Dostie is able to recommend an edible form. If smoking is the recommended form, he asks if the client is a smoker “because if you don’t smoke cigarettes and you go to smoke marijuana it doesn’t feel good.”
Dostie wants people to be mindful, that just like many other medicines, people should not operate machinery, including cars, after ingesting or inhaling cannabis. Dostie said there will be no consumption of the product permitted on the premises.
The shop will carry a variety of products from marijuana to edibles containing THC, to CBD-based items like tinctures and salves to reduce pain. And dog treats to aid in alleviating pain for canine companions. Glass smoking pipes, papers, incense, and clothing items will also be available.
Dostie said that they have added an office above the shop with plans to accommodate weekly visits by a nurse practitioner.
Elevation Station employs three assistants, all with caregiver cards, all of whom passed background checks as required by the state. Dostie said employees are familiar with the current 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 about keeping on top of current law.
“We don’t want to break any rules, but the hardest part of this industry is the rules haven’t been written yet. Or they’re going to change tomorrow,” Dostie said.
Construction on the building is nearing completion. Dostie points out the ramp, wide doors, low door handle and counter. He is focused on ensuring that the shop is accessible.
“This is not a requirement,” Dostie said. “This is to improve access for all,” Dostie said.
Elevation Station will focus on the “true meaning” of medical cannabis which to him, means access for everyone.
“We don’t ask why you need it, we’re just going to ask what helps you,” he said.
Elevation Station is scheduled to open Saturday, Aug. 28 and will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.