A week to the day from getting his medical marijuana card and making his first trip to First State Compassion Center’s Wilmington location, Milton’s Jay Liesener is happy he won’t have to make that trip again.
Told First State’s Sussex County location at The Vineyard is opening Friday, May 26, Liesener said, “That’ll be nice. It will be much easier next time.”
Having followed the progress of the Sussex location for years, Liesener said when he went to Wilmington last week, he had the impression the doors in Sussex would be opening soon. First State, he said, made sure he went through orientation with employees who will be working at the Sussex location for the sake of continuity.
“They really couldn’t have been more friendly,” said Liesener, 45, who suffered a C4 and C5 spinal injury when he was 17 years old and has been living in a wheelchair ever since.
The opening of Sussex’s only medical marijuana dispensary – located off Route 9 west of Five Points near Lewes – has been delayed for months. In a prepared statement May 22, First State President Mark Lally said it was gratifying to see the expansion of patient access come to fruition in Sussex County. It takes a lot of planning, hard work and dedication of hundreds of people to bring about such monumental changes, he said.
“Every day we demonstrate our compassion and care for the patients of Delaware and their families, and today is particularly satisfying for our teams who have been steadfast in their commitment to bring the new First State Compassion Center to the Sussex community,” said Lally.
According to numbers provided by Andrea Wojcik, Division of Public Health spokeswoman, there were 2,802 medical marijuana patients as of May 22. A significant majority of those patients, 68 percent, are New Castle County residents, while Sussex patients make up 19 percent of the total.
Liesener’s path to being a part of that 19 percent was slow. He can count on one hand the number of times he’s smoked marijuana, and, he said, in the 30 years since his accident he’s never taken pain pills.
“When the injury first happened, I thought the pain would go away, but it never subsided. It’s something you learn to live with,” he said.
In the week since getting his medical marijuana card, Liesener said the pain has subsided.
“It’s surreal,” he said smiling. “It’s something I’m going to have to get used to.”
First State opened Delaware’s first distribution site for medical marijuana in a 45,000-square-foot building in Wilmington two years ago. In fall 2016, the Division of Public Health, which regulates the state’s medical marijuana program, announced the winning bids for compassion centers in Kent and Sussex counties; New York-based Columbia Care won the contract in Kent.
At the time, Lally said the dispensary would be open in January, but delays accessing the property, and getting official approvals and inspections completed push the opening until now.
The wait for Kent’s medical marijuana patients is still up in the air. Columbia Care predicted a late 2017 opening of their facility after being awarded the contract. Representatives from Columbia Care were unavailable for comment to update the progress of the Kent dispensary. The New York-based company’s website has a link for a Delaware dispensary, but another link for more information just brings users back to the top of the site’s homepage.
The hours for First State Compassion Center’s Sussex location are 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. The dispensary is closed on Sunday.
For more information go to First State’s website or call 302-281-4888.
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