Seacoast news in brief

Medical marijuana registration opens

The state’s Department of Health and Human Services has begun accepting applications for its therapeutic cannabis program, almost three years after state legislators legalized medical marijuana.

The department is taking applications from patients and designated caregivers during what it’s calling a “pre-registration period.” While applications are being reviewed, the department is not issuing registry identification cards. Those cards, which will allow patients and caregivers to obtain medical marijuana at one of the state’s four alternative treatment centers (ATCs), won’t be issued until the ATCs open, which the department expects will happen in early 2016. An ATC, operated by Temescal Wellness, has been proposed for Dover; a separate company, Sanctuary ATC, has proposed opening a medical marijuana cultivation site in Rochester.

“The pre-registration period is intended to give potentially qualifying patients and designated caregivers ample time to work with their providers to get registered before the dispensaries are open for business,” DHHS commissioner Nick Toumpas said in a statement.

Application materials are available at

 — Larry Clow


Federal funds preserve 43 acres of forest

A $150,000 federal conservation grant will help Durham preserve 43 acres of forest along the Lamprey River. On Nov. 2, town councilors voted in favor of accepting the grant and moving forward with purchasing the parcel of land, which was formerly part of Thompson Farm and is adjacent to both the town’s water system intake pipe and other large tracts of conservation land.

“One of our goals is to preserve unfragmented parcels of land for wildlife (conservation) purposes, and another is to protect our water supply,” said town administrator Todd Selig. “It’s a very good project, and an example of a project that protects many birds with one stone.”

The land is owned by the Thompson family, who have agreed to sell the parcel for $425,000, $25,000 less than its assessed value. The land was formerly part of Thompson Farm, which was owned by Shirley Thompson, a long-time member of the Oyster River Cooperative School District School Board and former town councilor, and her husband. Shirley Thompson died in 2014. Selig said the town has worked with her daughters on the sale.

“Her passing was a real blow to the Durham community and we all miss her, so I’m pleased that we have been able to work together as a coalition to protect this parcel of land. It’s what she would have wanted,” he said.

Additional funding came from the town/UNH water fund, the Lamprey River Local Advisory Committee, the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, the New Hampshire Moose Plate Program, and the N.H. Department of Environmental Services. Once the purchase is finalized, Selig said the town would permanently conserve the land by granting a conservation easement to the Southeast Land Trust. Selig expects the sale to be finalized sometime in December or January. — LC


Testing begins for MtBE in wells

The N.H. Department of Environmental Services is set to begin testing private wells in the city for the presence of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MtBE). DES staff members will sample water from wells near the intersection of Crown Point Road, Estes Road, Meaderboro Road, and Walnut Street, as well as homes and businesses near this intersection on Strafford Road, Stephens Drive, and Julia Drive.

According to a notice from the DES MtBE Remediation Bureau, wells in the area are being tested because they are “potentially vulnerable to gasoline contamination.” MtBE is an additive commonly found in gasoline. According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, low levels of MtBE can make water undrinkable due to the chemical’s taste and odor and is “a potential human carcinogen at high doses.”

The sampling program is free, and if high levels of MtBE are found, DES will pay for costs associated with installing treatment systems or providing alternative sources of drinking water.

Residents and business owners in the area can sign up for sampling by calling 603-271-7174 or emailing [email protected]— LC