Advocates Say Dormant Medical Dispensaries Shouldn't Get First Shot At Recreational Licenses
On Monday, people who have long awaited the opportunity to get a piece of the recreational marijuana market in Massachusetts will get their chance.
The first applicants will be allowed to go after licenses to grow, sell or transport recreational cannabis — but only select groups are welcome to apply.
And, questions are already being raised about whether the application process is fair — or even lawful.
At issue are the 101 dispensaries that received what’s called a “provisional certificate of registration” from the Department of Public Health to start medical retail sales, but never got up and running. Think of them as dormant dispensaries.
Those provisional license holders are among those allowed in the first round, or “priority” phase, along with other groups, including the state’s 22 medical dispensaries currently serving patients.
Advocates for medical patients, like the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, say that’s not right. They say the money spent by non-operating dispensaries is a buyout to forget their obligations to medical patients.
“We’re worried about this creating a loophole for [dispensaries] to disavow themselves of medical applicants, and just pursue adult licensing,” says Michael Latulippe, development director of the Mass. Patient Advocacy Alliance. “They’re getting priority even though they never were operational to dispense to qualifying patients. And they never had to be.”
The group is also warning that lawsuits could grind the licensure process to a halt for all if these dormant dispensaries get approval to open up shop in the recreational market.
They point to the law: It says the Cannabis Control Commission — the panel charged with creating the regulations for the nascent industry — prioritize applications not for all RMDs, but only the ones “that are