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, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.