Medical marijuana facilities struggling for licenses in Western Massachusetts – The Republican – masslive.com
More than two years after the state’s voters passed a law allowing medical marijuana, residents of Western Massachusetts still have little hope of seeing a medical marijuana dispensary open in the near future.
Currently, there are no applicants being considered to open dispensaries in Berkshire or Hampden counties. A proposed dispensary in Franklin County is still in the licensing phase, while a proposed dispensary in Hampshire County is on “hold.”
“For those in Western Mass., we’re very concerned,” said Matthew Allen, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance. “Those counties are vacant. You’re talking about people having to travel hours to get their medicine. That’s unacceptable. It’s not what the voters intended when they passed the law.”
The dearth of licenses in Western Massachusetts comes as the state has struggled to get medical marijuana dispensaries approved. The state in January announced the preliminary approval of 20 medical marijuana dispensaries. But the media found problems with many of those applications, and after additional vetting, only nine applicants are now in the final inspection phase. The first dispensaries from those nine could open this winter.
The original 20 dispensaries included two in Western Massachusetts – Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers in Holyoke, in Hampden County, and New England Treatment Access in Northampton, in Hampshire County. The state also invited eight applicants to submit new applications for dispensaries in four counties where a dispensary had not been licensed, including Berkshire and Franklin.
But in June, the state declined to issue a license to Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers, which was run by Heriberto Flores, due to findings by the state auditor related to Flores’ salary and the use of funds by the New England Farm Workers Council, which Flores runs.