Medical marijuana dispensary licenses issued in western Mass.

The state issued its first licenses for dispensaries on Friday

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Medical marijuana dispensaries are a fairly new concept in Massachusetts. The state issued its first licenses for dispensaries on Friday.

“A lot of people are just collectively breathing a sigh of relief to see all of these states start to act on what the people are actually saying. I think Massachusetts is absolutely one of them,” Dennis Chase of Northampton told 22News.

“I’m a registered nurse and I think the potential for harm is not near what we have for prescription drugs,” said Christina Koes, who is familiar with the dispensaries in her home state of Vermont.

Of the twenty licenses awarded across the Commonwealth, just two nonprofits were licensed in Western Massachusetts. The first nonprofit organization, Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers, plans to open a dispensary at 181 Appleton Street in Holyoke. The second would be operated by New England Treatment Access in Northampton.

“I wouldn’t want it myself so I think it’s going to go to the people who want it for illness. The people who want it for other reasons are going to get it anyway,” said Jacqueline Dufresne of Williamsburg.

State law requires at least one and no more than 5 dispensaries in each county in Massachusetts.

“Medicinal dispensaries will grow. They’ll probably max out, but I think while that’s happening there will be a movement in other states,” Dave Maddoni of Northampton told 22News.

Many marijuana supporters told 22news they believe people are hesitant toward the drug because they fear it’s a gateway to harder drugs. They said the dispensaries are the real gateway to completely legalizing marijuana.

“One opens up, people realize it’s not a big deal as people think it’s going to be and it’s not going to cause more problems and people are making up all these fears about it. I think it’s going to expand after that,” said Justin Kemp of Northampton.

The first two dispensaries could open as early as this summer, if they get the approval from their prospective cities.