Protesters rally for safe access to medical marijuana

BOSTON (WWLP) – Nearly two years after 63% Massachusetts voters approved the use of medical marijuana, no dispensaries have opened up yet. With signs in hand, a group of about fifty people marched up to the State House steps demanding safe access to the drug.

“To see something overwhelmingly voted in and then fumbled so greatly by the Department of Public Health, lawmakers and public officials. It’s sad,” said activist Mickey Martin.

The process to approve these dispensaries have been highly-criticized after several applicants failed background checks and lied on their applications. 22News contacted Health and Human Services to see what is taking so long to open a dispensary. A statement by HHS Secretary John Polanowicz reads, in part:

“Providing safe patient access is a priority of the program, and we are proud that dispensaries are now in the final Inspection Phase prior to opening. Once dispensaries pass inspection and meet local requirements, they will be ready to start growing and preparing to open. Some dispensaries have indicated they will be ready to do so by the end of this year. As part of our commitment to ensuring patient access across the Commonwealth, DPH is also currently reviewing applications for dispensaries in open counties.”

Jill Osborn’s daughter suffers from refractory epilepsy, which causes severe seizures. After seventeen medications failed to help, quick and safe access to medical marijuana could be the solution.

“The response from officials is that they’re trying to create a safe and effective program, but it’s not safe for my daughter, and it’s not effective for her if she doesn’t have any medicine.”

The state is also vetting applicants through an Open County Process to make sure patients are within a 30-mile radius of a dispensary.

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