Massachusetts: Deadline Looms For Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applications
By Steve Elliott
Thursday is the deadline for applications to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts. People who want to operate a dispensary must hand-deliver their initial application to the state Department of Public Health.
"The Department has created a solid regulatory framework for this new industry, and now we are ready to move forward with the competitive application process," said DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, reports Christine McConville at the Boston Herald.
"We are committed to a fully transparent process that respects patient needs, while ensuring safe communities," Bartlett said.
Up to 36 dispensaries can open in Massachusetts under the law, approved by voters last November. The outlets will provide cannabis for people with qualifying medical conditions including cancer, Parkinson's disease and AIDS.
Prospective dispensary operators must go through a two-step application procedure. In the first phase, state officials will review each applicant's finances and run background checks. Applicants must report if any member of their organization has had a felony drug conviction.
Applications of those who clear the initial phase will go before a selection committee will review them.
Those who hope to open dispensaries must pay a $1,500 fee as part of the Phase 1 application. If they qualify for Phase 2, they will have to pay another $30,000. Both fees are non-refundable.
Dispensaries that receive final selection must then pay $50,000 a year for a state-approved Certificate of Registraiton.
"The application and patient registration fees that DPH has put into place are in line with other states and will be affordable to patients," Bartlett said. "Dispensaires will be required to pay their fair share to support this program, so we do not rely on taxpayer resources."
DPH will use the fees to pay operational expenses for the medical marijuana program, including hiring staff and training inspectors to monitor dispensaries. The agency will also develop an online system for registering and auditing for eligibility.
The program is required by law to pay for itself (be revenue-neutral); fees are designed to cover all estimated operating costs.