After months of speculation, First State Compassion Center has confirmed it will open its Sussex County location in the Vineyards at Nassau Valley, just off Route 9 near Lewes.
Mark Lally of First State said, “We at FSCC are proud new members of the Lewes community and know that our presence is a huge step forward in serving the patients of Sussex County, Delaware.”
Lally noted there will be no grow operation at the Lewes facility; it will instead be retail only. Patients in Sussex who benefit from medical marijuana are excited they will have access to cannabis therapy close to home, he said.
“Please know how excited we are for this opportunity,” Lally said. “Our patients are your neighbors and family members and friends.”
Lally also said the company is aware it is important to address concerns of neighbors and the community. “To that end, we are organizing a neighborhood meeting in late February/early March and will invite all members of the Vineyards to participate and meet with our staff and tour our facility.”
Lally emphasized First State takes security seriously. “We are in compliance with all state safety regulations and will be installing high-tech security systems and cameras, providing another layer of security outside the facility,” he said. Inside the facility, additional processes and staff will reflect the highest standards in safety and privacy, he said. Lally noted patients are not permitted to consume their medication in the building or on the grounds; loitering and purchasing medicine for nonmembers and reselling purchased medicine is not permitted.
‘Our goal, on top of providing safe, quality medication with convenient access, is to be a respected member of the business and patient communities,” Lally said.
Since opening its doors in June 2015, First State has been the only entity allowed to distribute medical marijuana in Delaware, and patients from all over the state have had to drive to its Wilmington-based location to get their medicine.
That should change this year. In the past six months, the Delaware Division of Public Health has awarded two contracts to open dispensaries in Kent and Sussex counties – the new First State contract in Sussex and another to New York-based Columbia Care in Kent.
First State is expecting a mid-March opening. At the time of the contract announcement, Columbia Care said it expected to open during the second half of the year.
The subject of First State’s second location was brought up during a Jan. 30 meeting of the Eastern Sussex Republican Club. Sens. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, and Bryant Richardson, R-Laurel, and Rep. Steve Smyk, R-Milton, were in attendance to answer questions about the projected shortfall of $350 million the state is facing next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Near the end of the two-hour meeting, a woman stood up and said she was concerned the new compassion center was coming to her neighborhood.
Lopez asked her where she lived, and after she replied Paynter’s Mill, he said she had nothing to worry about because it was going to be in the Vineyards, next to the Social Security Administration’s office.
Smyk quickly supported Lopez’s statement and then said, with a maybe-I-spoke-too-soon-smile, the information wasn’t supposed to get out. “Can it stay in this room?” he asked.
The audience laughed, the woman’s concerns were quelled, and the conversation quickly returned to the budget.
In Feb. 1 follow-up emails, Lopez and Smyk said First State has proven to be professional and reliable since opening in Wilmington.
“We have made sure to provide safe access to the center and its location on a major U.S. route that adds convenience for all Sussex county patient access,” said Lopez.
“It is most certainly a benefit to our district to have Delaware’s second medical cannabis dispensary opening here, near Lewes,” said Smyk.
This is the second time state officials have revealed information about the Sussex County compassion center ahead of First State’s own timetable.
The first time, in October, was about First State having been awarded the Sussex County contract. The announcement was made during court proceedings of a case filed by Milton resident Todd Boone, who claimed the state was moving too slowly implementing its medical marijuana program. Ultimately the case was dismissed, but not before Justice Department attorney Joe Handlon updated Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley on the status of the medical marijuana program.
According to First State, legal cannabis is available to Delaware patients who suffer from: cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV, AIDS, terminal illness, decompensated cirrhosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, autism with aggressive with aggressive or self-injurious behavior, intractable epilepsy, physical manifestation of PTSD, and conditions that cause severe debilitating pain, wasting syndrome, intractable nausea and seizures. Cannabis therapy is a valuable treatment for a medical condition, and can be compared to any other treatment for ailments and illnesses, said Lally.