State allows 11 pot dispensaries to move forward

Nine dispensaries were rejected

BOSTON (WWLP-AP) — A medical marijuana dispensary proposed for Northampton is being allowed to move forward, while the state has rejected one planned in Holyoke.

In total, eleven medical marijuana dispensaries have been cleared to move forward in Massachusetts while several others that had initially been given the green light to proceed were rejected after a further review, state public health officials announced Friday.

The process had been on hold for several months while the state worked to verify information provided in the applications of 20 companies that were initially given provisional clearance for licenses in January.

The nine rejected dispensaries include both applicants in the city of Boston and three under the umbrella of a company led by former U.S. Rep. William Delahunt.

A message seeking comment from Delahunt was not immediately returned.

The rejected dispensary in Holyoke was Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers, Inc., an effort led by New England Farm Workers Council president Herbie Flores.

Karen Van Unen, head of the state’s medical marijuana program, said the 11 remaining dispensaries survived the enhanced investigation process but will still be subjected to final inspections before they are granted final operating licenses. The proposed facilities are in Dennis, Salem, Haverhill, Northampton, Ayer, Newton, Lowell, Quincy, Brookline, Brockton and Milford.

The dispensary in Northampton is being proposed by New England Treatment Access, Inc.

Click here for additional details from the Department of Public Health, including a listing of all the applicants who are and aren’t moving forward.

Van Unen said the first dispensaries could open by November and the rest early next year. She said 97 percent of Massachusetts residents will live within 30 miles of one of the dispensaries.

Under a law approved by voters in November 2012, as many as 35 dispensaries in Massachusetts would be allowed to grow and sell marijuana for patients with certain medical conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to the two proposed facilities in Boston and one in Holyoke, others rejected were planning locations in Worcester, Fairhaven, Plymouth, Mashpee, Taunton and Cambridge.

“This process is designed to ensure only the highest quality applicants advance to meet the patient access and public safety needs of the Commonwealth,” said Van Unen.

Officials said the further review of the companies included additional background checks on individuals and verification of information that was provided in the applications, including claims of community support.

Five other applicants who were not part of the 20 selected in January still have an opportunity to apply for licenses in counties that are not currently covered by a dispensary.

Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration had rejected calls, including from some lawmakers, to restart the licensing process from scratch after reports that some applicants may have provided false or misleading information.

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