The Massachusetts Department of Public Heath has approved four more marijuana dispensaries to move to the inspection phase, including one in Boston. Here's The Boston Globe:
State health officials on Friday approved a highly coveted license for Boston’s first medical marijuana dispensary, selecting Patriot Care Corp. to operate a facility near Downtown Crossing.
The company, which was already provisionally approved to open a dispensary in Lowell, also won permission Friday for a location in Greenfield, making it the only company positioned to run three dispensaries in Massachusetts.
In addition, state officials said they would allow another company to move forward with plans to open dispensaries in Brookline and Northampton — a decision that drew sharp criticism from some critics who allege the company has received special treatment.
The Patrick administration put the plans of the company, New England Treatment Access, on hold in August after the Globe reported that its chief executive had falsely claimed to be a college graduate on the firm’s applications to the state...
Two other companies received permission Friday from state health regulators to move forward with medical marijuana dispensaries: Coastal Compassion in Fairhaven and MassMedicum in Taunton.
This is good news for patients, but doesn't do much to address the concerns of outspoken patients and advocates who have criticized the sluggish pace of DPH's dispensary approval process. Two years have passed and, while 15 dispensaries have been approved for inspection, none have been allowed to open yet. No dispensaries have been approved for inspection in Hampden, Berkshire, Dukes, and Nantucket counties, which will undoubtedly make it difficult for patients living in those areas to access their medicine.
Last month, medical marijuana patients and advocates angrily protested outside DPH headquarters in Boston, saying it was "two years too late." Mickey Martin, an activist and author who spoke at the group's press conference, demanded that DPH approve at least 35 dispensaries, as state law allows. Martin and other speakers also criticized DPH for creating burdensome regulations for caregivers, providers who are not associated with dispensaries. Caregivers are only allowed to grow marijuana for one patient, limiting their effectiveness at meeting patient demand.
Outside Massachusetts, the movement to legalize marijuana gained a lot of ground after last week's Election Day. Voters in Oregon and Alaska both approved legalization bills, bringing the number of states that have legalized marijuana up to four. Additionally, voters in Washington, DC also approved a legalization bill. In Florida, a majority of voters supported a medical marijuana bill, but it did not pass because it failed to get the required 60% of the vote.
The Marijuana Policy Project projects that marijuana legalization will be a ballot question in at least six states in 2016: California, Arizona, Nevada, Montana, Maine, and Massachusetts. A recent poll found that a majority of Massachusetts voters support the idea, suggesting the bill will pass if it makes it on the ballot.