Report: Massachusetts Medical Cannabis Licensing Process Flawed


Massachusetts is in the process of opening up medical cannabis dispensaries for patients to frequent. Massachusetts law requires that there be at least one medical cannabis dispensary in each county, but no more than five in each county. The limited number of medical cannabis dispensaries, and high barrier to entry, has resulted in fierce competition for licenses.

With any competitive process where the stakes are high, those that are left on the outside looking in will complain that they were wronged. In the case of licensing in Massachusetts, there appears to be some merit to those claims. Per Marijuana Business Daily:

The process used to award dispensary licenses in Massachusetts was flawed from the start, beset by conflicts of interest, issues involving contractors and shortcomings in vetting applicants, according to a Boston Globe review of records.

The revelations could influence lawsuits against the state over its selection process for MMJ business permits and spur changes in how Massachusetts handles licensing going forward.

One contractor hired by the state’s health department to rank companies that wanted to operate dispensaries said it ran out of time to conduct background checks, while a separate contractor failed to note that a couple hired by several applicants had lost their license to operate in Colorado, the Globe reported.

The ongoing lawsuits against the State of Massachusetts will not affect the continuing process of licensing dispensaries. I’m very curious to see how things play out. If the State of Massachusetts is found to be at fault for wrongfully denying/approving licenses, how will that affect future licenses? Will dispensary limits be altered? Only time will tell. However, complications with the regulatory process will be common while the cannabis industry grows. It is imperative that the cannabis industry work together to ensure sound regulations and that the interests of the industry, as well as the voters, are heard and implemented.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon’s ca