Written by Liz Taurasi
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has narrowed down the list of applicants for registered marijuana dispensaries in the state.
Agency officials announced Monday it has completed its review of the initial applicants and 158 are eligible to apply for the second and final phase in the selection process.
The law, approved by voters last November, allows the DPH to register up to 35 non-profit Registered Marijuana Dispensaries across the state in the first year, with at least one, but no more than five dispensaries per county. The law went into effect in January, 2013.
Overall, the department received 181 Phase 1 applications on August 22, 2013, which, according to a DPH release, were reviewed for non-profit status, financial viability and compliance with other application requirements.
“This is a very competitive process and we required applicants to meet high standards to advance,” said DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, R.N. in the release. “We are fortunate that Massachusetts has a large field of serious applicants, who are capable of making a significant investment to benefit qualified patients and safeguard communities. While no decision to deny an applicant was taken lightly, we wanted to ensure that those who advance could demonstrate the ability to operate a successful non-profit Registered Marijuana Dispensary.”
Of the applicants not moving on to Phase 2 of the process, 22 did not meet the criteria and one withdrew from the process. According to the DPH, applications were denied for a variety of reasons which included faiiing to incorporate as a non-profit or lack of demonstrated financial viability, among others.
An informational meeting for Phase 2 applicants is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 10, at 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 30 Washington St., Somerville. At the meeting, DPH officials will address questions on the application process.
Once all the applications have been submitted, a selection committee will evaluate and score them based on several factors including the ability to meet the health needs of registered patients, appropriateness of the site, geographical distribution of dispensaries, local support, and ensuring public safety.
According to the DPH, these applicants will be asked to not only demonstrate they have local support during the review process, but they must also show they can comply with all municipal rules, regulations, ordinances and bylaws.The DPW is also developing a database to track patient and physician registrations that will be available to law enforcement.