More than 100 applicants have shown interest in Mass. to operate their own non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries. All of them are competing to get one out of the 35 allowed licenses after a law had been approved by voters in November.
According to the law, marijuana will become legally available to patients afflicted with certain medical illnesses such as AIDS, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.
Aspiring operators were required to personally deliver their initial applications to the office of the Department of Public Health by around 3pm on Thursday. Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett exclaimed that officials had been excited with the tremendous response.
The selection process has two steps. During the first phase, applicants will have to pass background checks and financial capability screening procedures. Those groups that would pass the initial test will be asked to hand over their final applications which should be accompanied by a nonrefundable $30,000 fee. Scoring of the final group of applicants shall be performed by a selection committee.
Bartlett said in Boston.com that they would be coming up with an exact tally of applications received and the list would be available by Friday. Hopefully, the agency would be able to accomplish the initial reviews by the middle of September and eventually award licenses towards the end of the year.
Massachusetts is one of the 20 states that support medical marijuana. The rule states that patients will be allowed to receive 10 ounces of marijuana for a period of 60 days. However, doctors can make recommendations that would allow acutely ill patients to receive more. Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are obliged to pay an annual registration fee of $50,000 in order to remain in the business.
Valerio Romano, an attorney that collaborates with aspiring operators and patients that seek medical marijuana, told Boston.com that one of the huge obstacles to move forward is convincing the local communities to allow dispensaries inside their perimeters. While the towns cannot ban the dispensaries, some of them have asked for moratoriums and others have looked into zoning restrictions. Romano said that those communities with moratoriums would miss on the benefits that go with a dispensary such as generating more jobs in the community.