Good News in 2015 for MA Medical Marijuana Patients
Maybe Massachusetts made a New Year’s resolution to make progress on the medical marijuana front. Despite having approved medical marijuana in 2012, two years later, not a single dispensary had earned the Certificate of Registration needed to begin helping those in need of relief.
That is, until the final day of 2014. On December 31st, the Department of Public Health (MassDPH) issued its first Certificate, to Alternative Therapies Group. MMJ Program Executive Director Karen van Unen had set a goal for opening the first dispensary this winter. Well, the original target was November 2014. Moving the due date does wonders for achieving goals.
Why is it taking so long? The Boston Globe wanted to know. They found that the ranking system used to sift through applicants was a mess.
One contractor was supposed to review applicants, but was overwhelmed. There was not enough time or manpower to keep up. But the company’s contract was extended and its pay was more than doubled.
Another contractor won a fat, no-bid deal to do background checks, but missed violations it was hired to catch.
Although MassDPH collected over $3 million in application fees, the process stalled while applicants and patients waited. There were more than two dozen lawsuits filed.
Still, now there is progress. Alternative Therapies Group (ATG) can begin growing and cultivating marijuana. Once the plants are grown, there will be more inspections before the doors can open.
Director Unen said that “the highest standards of… safety and access” were key. Inspections will guarantee security, product safety and quality.
ATG’s dispensary will be at 50 Grove Street. Their grow site will be at 10 Industrial Way in Amesbury.
Fourteen other dispensaries are still waiting. One may be in Boston, if the Zoning Board gives them the go-ahead.
So, raise your glass… or whatever. Doctors hope that many people in pain in MA may find their suffering eased in 2015.