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slides: Central MA Medical Marijuana Race Narrows to 13 Players

Monday, October 14, 2013


Licenses are expected to be awarded in January 2014.

With Phase 1 of the application process complete, the number of players vying for five potential licenses to dispense medical marijuana in Worcester County has narrowed from 15 to 13. Licenses are expected to be awarded to 35 dispensaries statewide in January, with at least one, and no more than five, dispensaries in each county.

To see the 13 remaining license applicants for marijuana dispensaries in Worcester County, go to the slides, below.

"These applicants have to go through two phases at the state level and, depending on the local jurisdiction, there may be subsequent applications," says Derek Brindisi, director of the Worcester Division of Public Health (WDPH).

The original list was narrowed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which rated applicants based on several criteria, including nonprofit status and the criminal backgrounds of persons filing the applications. To move beyond Phase 1, applicants also had to prove they had at least $500,000 in liquid capital.

Who Got Rejected?

Massachusetts Compassionate Care Corporation was rejected based on these criteria, though no specific reasoning was listed. TJMM Marijuana Dispensary, Inc. is also no longer in the running, though its application was listed by the Mass. Department of Public Health as “withdrawn” and not rejected.

Phase 2

The 13 Worcester County applicants who passed Phase 1 will be required to pay a $30,000, nonrefundable application fee. They will then be rated on several additional criteria including geography, and community support. Perhaps most importantly, it is in Phase 2 that applicants must disclose the potential locations of their dispensaries. The period for applications is not yet closed, so addresses of potential Worcester County dispensaries are not available.

It is likely that the controversy surrounding medical marijuana dispensaries will continue to grow when locations are eventually revealed. Several Massachusetts cities and towns have implemented moratoriums on medical marijuana, indefinitely delaying the opening of dispensaries until the community has more time to study the subject. No moratoriums are currently in place in Worcester County.

Economic Growth for Worcester County

Despite continued opposition, many people are looking forward the opening of dispensaries and the economic boom it could bring to Worcester County.

“There are no cons of medical marijuana for Worcester County residents,” says Sara Arnold, also known as Sahra Kant, cofounder of the Family Law and Cannabis Alliance.

“For Worcester County residents who aren't patients, the effects are positive. It will bring tax revenue, jobs, including tertiary jobs not directly related to the cannabis industry, such as HVAC installation and maintenance or construction, and improve the areas in which they are situated,” Arnold says.

She is concerned, though, about the lack of clarity in current state laws, and the speed at which the process of opening dispensaries is moving forward.

“There are unfortunately cons for patients, such as the fact that most have no access to their legal medicine until the dispensaries open sometime next year,” Arnold says.

“Another, more ongoing problem for patients is that despite voters overwhelmingly passing Question 3 in 2012, parents currently have no protection under the law or in Department of Public Health program regulations, so the use of their doctor-recommended medicine can still result in Mass. Department of Children and Families Services investigations and ongoing involvement, as well as problems in state Family Court.”

Next Steps

Brindisi says that while the WDPH does not formerly oppose or support medical marijuana, the Division is preparing for its implementation.

“The voters voted to allow medicinal use and we will do whatever we need to do to make sure future dispensaries are following regulations,” Brindisi said. “It’s still a little early in the process as the state is still vetting the potential dispensaries, but we’re paying a lot of attention locally.”

Brindisi said the WDPH is taking part in several conversations about medical marijuana and planning potential outreach with local police departments.

“As this continues to evolve, we’ll be considering several strategies,” he said.

See the 13 remaining Worcester County license applicants in the slides, below.

Note: License applicants are shown in alphabetical order. Corporation information source: Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth's Office. "Corporation Location" reflects stated location of "Principal Office in Massachusetts," while locations of President and Treasurer reflects stated addresses of those individuals as filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Office.


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