Massachusetts Revamps Medical Marijuana Licensing Process
For the last three years, Massachusetts has been struggling to enact its medical marijuana program. Bureaucratic foot dragging and allegations of corruption have slowed the process and patients in Massachusetts have been left in the lurch.
However, on May 15, 2015, good news came out of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as health officials announced a dramatic overhaul of the state’s licensing process for medical marijuana businesses.
The intended goal of the overhaul is to simultaneously streamline and add transparency to the application process. Under the previous application process, businesses were given a score and compared against other applicants. The highest scoring applicants were given licenses and all other applicants were denied, regardless of how well they scored on the application.
With the new application guidelines, businesses are judged based on individual merit instead being pitted against other applicants.
One important change to the application process is how the state interacts with applicants. Many applicants complained that there was a lack of available communication with state officials, which led to a lot of errors and missteps for both parties. Under the new guidelines, the department will make staff available to the applicants for technical support throughout the process.
For entrepreneurs that failed to acquire a license last time, this new application process provides a second chance.
Catherine Cametti is a Walpole resident and would-be dispensary owner seeking a license with the state. Under the old scoring system, her business received high marks on the license application but was abruptly denied a license because of a problem with one of her team members failing the background check.
“The last time, there were so many unknowns, and I felt they were changing things as they went along, and there were a couple of curve balls thrown in,” Cametti told the The Boston Globe. “To know what you are dealing with ahead of time is really important.”
Now, Cametti will have a much easier time applying for a license. The new application process will specifically outline which offenses will cause an applicant to fail the background check. The system will also allow companies seeking an application to remove members of their team that fail the background check without putting their application at risk.
Interested parties will be able to submit their application starting on June 29. All applications will be reviewed in the order that they are received.
Although the program has had a rocky start, Massachusetts’ medical marijuana program is slowly getting back on track. While most patients and entrepreneurs would have preferred for the state to have gotten things right the first time, most would agree that it is better late than never.
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