Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jul 2014
Source: Recorder, The (MA)
Copyright: 2014 The Recorder


The state of New York just became the 23rd state to OK the use of 
medical marijuana.

Is anyone taking bets on whether New York will be providing this form 
of relief to patients with cancer or other medical issues before a 
dispensary gets opened in Franklin County? After all, it's thought 
that New York expects everything to be in place in 18 months.

All kidding aside, we can't imagine anyone could have foreseen the 
way the process in Massachusetts has gone so far, almost two years 
after a ballot proposition was approved by voters legalizing medical 
marijuana. With the law taking effect Jan 1, 2013, no one thought 
that the state would have its act together immediately. 
Understandably, there were too many details to work out, besides what 
was written into the law.

About 18 months later, however, there's not a single medical 
marijuana dispensary up and running in Massachusetts.

It's not for a want of trying.

The state Department of Public Health had about 100 applicants trying 
to move toward licenses through the initial vetting process, and then 
rejected all but 20. Further review of the applicants resulted in 
another nine being dropped at the end of June, including those that 
were Franklin County-specific. This week, the state held an 
informational session for five applicants that were invited to submit 
applications for open counties, including Franklin and Berkshire counties.

Even if one of those applicants emerges, there are still plenty of 
hurdles, as witnessed by the 11 that now have gotten provisional 
licenses, to get past before they can move toward setting up shop and 
operating, pending additional reviews and inspections. While state 
officials say it is possible that dispensaries could be open in 
November, it is more likely that it won't be until after the first of the year.

What then do we make of the process? For one thing, that it took the 
state entirely too long to get its act together, despite the fact 
that the process properly not only included the intensity of 
background checks and verifying information but also in providing the 
public with the documentation about the evaluations. We can also find 
fault, too, with the applicants that either didn't understand what 
they were doing or weren't as forthcoming with information as they 
should have been.

"Those advancing have passed comprehensive background checks and 
investigative reviews. Prior to opening, each must comply with all 
inspection and municipal requirements," said Karen van Unen, 
executive director of DPH's Medical Use of Marijuana Program in a 
statement on the department's website.

"This process is designed to ensure only the highest quality 
applicants advance to meet the patient access and public safety needs 
of the commonwealth."

And that takes time, we know, but we also can't help thinking that 
the whole idea seems to have caught the DPH off guard.

In the meantime, marijuana is still readily available - at affordable 
prices - on just about every busy street corner or side alley in the 

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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom