Mass. Approves 20 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

CLICK TO ENLARGE: Dispensary locations across Massachusetts (Mass. DPH)

CLICK TO ENLARGE: Dispensary locations across Massachusetts (Mass. DPH)

A small grocery store and a former warehouse are among the buildings that may soon be redesigned to open for a very different purpose: selling marijuana to qualifying patients.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Friday approved 20 medical marijuana dispensary licenses in 19 communities.

Voters approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes in 2012. The law said the state could OK up to 35 dispensaries, with at least one, but not more than five, in each county.

Boston, in Suffolk County, has two licenses. Four licenses were awarded in Middlesex County, with two licenses each in Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Worcester counties. Hampden and Hampshire counties each got one license.

The dispensaries are in the following cities and towns: Ayer, Boston (2), Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge, Dennis, Fairhaven, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lowell, Mashpee, Milford, Newton, Northampton, Plymouth, Quincy, Salem, Taunton and Worcester.

Four counties do not yet have a dispensary. Six qualifying dispensary applicants were invited to seek an alternate location, in order to serve the remaining counties. State officials said they may issue additional licenses in June.

Owners who were notified they cleared state approval will now have to begin the local approval process, which includes zoning, inspection and public health rules in some communities.

Each dispensary is required to grow and process the marijuana they sell, a process state officials call “seed to sale.” Most dispensaries have tentative leases in rural areas of the state where they plan to grow the plants.

Some local public health officials have said that dispensaries will not likely open before early to late summer. That will give owners time for the first growing cycle, property renovations, local hearings, inspections and financing.

Allison Jones, from Rutland, said she’s thrilled that she will be able to buy marijuana from a licensed, regulated facility. Jones is still undergoing surgery three years after a car was pushed on top of her on a Connecticut highway. She says dispensaries will give patients a range of options that are not available on the black market, and that will be certified for safe growing.

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) continues to offer cautions for patients, providers and the state.

In a statement, MMS President Ron Dunlap said patients must take into account that “there is insufficient scientific information about the safety of marijuana for ‘medicinal’ purposes.” Dunlap suggests that patients ask about the warning signs and side effects of marijuana, as they would for any prescribed drug.

Patients can request a certificate for legal marijuana use from a physician with whom they have a “bona fide physician-patient relationship,” and be in possession of a 60-day supply (up to 10 ounces).*

Marijuana is allowed for patients with “cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician,” according to regulations published last year by DPH.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the amount of marijuana a qualifying patient can possess. It is a 60-day supply, or 10 ounces, not 60 ounces. We regret the error. This post was last updated at 2 p.m.

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  • kevin_hunt

    “The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug as well as the continuing controversy as to whether or not cannabis is of medical value are obstacles to medical progress in this area. Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”

    Source: Medical Marijuana: Clearing Away the Smoke

    Open Neurol J. 2012

  • F M

    “other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician,”

    Translates to: all you have to do is get a “doctor” to approve use for ANY condition, which shouldn’t be too hard. There are any number of “Dr Feelgoods” out there, judging by all the prescription drug abuse.

    • Lawrence

      Yes, that is true and a good example of that was at Venice Beach, Ca. where Drs in white coats were soliciting the passersby asking if they would like to be evaluated for pot. Everybody got what they wanted, and it was a joke.

  • asdf123

    “Rutland is still undergoing surgery three years after a car was pushed on top of her on a Connecticut highway.”

    Uhh.. What??

    • asdf123

      Ok they changed the name after I posted. Still seems like a long time to be in surgery though, and I still wanna know who pushed the car on her.

      • Dan

        I’m assuming she’s had to undergo multiple surgeries since the accident, and there are more schedule to help her with her injuries. As far as Jones go, she was helping a person of a different accident, when a different car also hit them, and the car rolled on top of her.

  • Kate Hutchinson

    Is there a list of the proposed addresses for these dispensaries? For example, Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, Inc is listed as granted a license in Plymouth, but a search for the company turns up the address 116 Huntington Ave in Boston.

  • Correction

    From the referenced document: 60-day supply, i.e., 10 ounces, …not 60 ounces.

    • Ben Swasey

      Thank you for flagging our error. We have updated the post with a correction and regret the error.

    • WBUR

      Thank you for flagging our error. We have updated the post with a correction and regret the error.