Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

MassachusettsMarijuana[InhaleMD].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Just four dispensaries sell medical marijuana in the state of Massachusetts. With 18,476 active patients, a 50 percent increase from last August, that has led to shortages, and those four shops are struggling to keep up with patient demand.

According to Kay Lazar of the Boston Globe, 14,079 ounces of medicinal cannabis were sold in Massachusetts in 2015. The four operating dispensaries are Alternative Therapies Group, the first to open, in Salem; Central Ave Compassion Care in Ayer, In Good Health, Inc., in Brockton; and New England Treatment Access in Northampton, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive.com.

His dispensary is struggling to keep up with the demand for marijuana, said In Good Health's David Noble. According to Noble, demand is running seven times what he expected when he opened the shop in early September. The dispensary has served 3,453 patients since opening, Noble said.

Noble said his dispensary is in the midst of "operational changes and is conducting longer-term strategic planning so that it can meet the higher demand for its products, and we thank those who depend on the dispensary for their patience."

Some Massachusetts patients, or their designated caregivers registered with the Department of Public Health, are allowed to grow marijuana at home if they have a "hardship cultivation registration."

Patients say four dispensaries aren't nearly enough, given the distance between them and ongoing supply problems. The shortage of available medicinal cannabis has posed problems for patients who said they rely on it.

Since June, when the first dispensary opened, Massachusetts has been granting waivers allowing companies to sell marijuana that hasn't been fully tested for pesticides and other contaminants, because lab owners said it takes months to fine-tune their equipment to match evolving state rules.

In the meantime, shops have been limited to selling 4.23 ounces of marijuana to patients for a 60-day supply. Normally, patients would be allowed to buy up to 10 ounces for two months. In the coming weeks, full 10-ounce sales will be allowed, according to health department spokesman Scott Zoback.

A group known as the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is trying to qualify a recreational legalization measure for November's ballot.

Graphic: InhaleMD