Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensary application graphic
Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applications May Follow Rhode Island’s Procedure

The following post will be a comparison of the Massachusetts medical marijuana law and the application process in Rhode Island.  Future blog posts will address the application process in other states.  The goal of these posts is to help dispensary applicants understand what the Department of Public Health (DPH) will expect from dispensary applications in Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, dispensaries are also known as treatment centers.  Mass law allows for treatment center agents who are at least 21 years old and have no prior drug felony convictions.  Agents are employees or board members of the dispensary.  Massachusetts law allows for acquisition and dispensing of medical cannabis by dispensaries.

The DPH requires that treatment centers register.  This means they must pay an application fee, state the legal name and physical address of the treatment center, including another location if needed where cannabis will be cultivated for the dispensary.  The application must state the name, address and date of birth of each officer or board member.  They must have operating procedures that follow DPH rules for oversight and cultivation and storage of medical cannabis in an enclosed and locked facility.

In the first year the DPH will issue regulations and permits for up to 35 dispensaries, with a maximum of 5 and no fewer than 1 dispensary in each county.  If the DPH believes that the number of dispensaries is insufficient to supply the patients in Massachusetts, they can increase the number of dispensaries across the state.  The DPH has 120 days from January 1st, 2013 for the promulgation of rules to govern the application process and regulation of dispensaries.

So what does that mean?  If one solely follows the law as it currently exists their application need not have much.  Name, identity of applicants, and operating procedures for cultivation and storage.  You can be certain that the applications will need more than that.  The DPH wants to know that those receiving permits are actually able to open the dispensary.  A look at the Rhode Island application procedure is good evidence of what else the Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensary application will look like.

Quality Rhode Island medical marijuana dispensary applications include the following:

  • The legal name, articles of incorporation and bylaws of the nonprofit “compassion center.”
  • The physical address of the dispensary.  The Rhode Island application allows for applicants to state the general area of the proposed dispensary and not necessarily provide a specific address.  This differs from the Massachusetts law as it currently stands.
  • Some Rhode Island applications included statement from supporters of the proposed dispensary including local patients and business leaders in that community.
  • Job descriptions, employment records and training manuals for all dispensary employees.
  • Policies and procedures for secure, private storage of the medical records of all patients that acquire cannabis at the dispensary.
  • A statement that the dispensary will take steps to respect their neighbors.
  • A policy for inspection of the facility by the governing body.
  • Policies for responsible cannabis use.
  • Policies for cannabis packaging, tracking and labeling.  Including a description of methodology to make sure that patients do not obtain more than the limits imposed by the law.
  • A complete operations manual.
  • A statement of the business experience that the applicants have which would enable them to run a dispensary.
  • A statement of how the dispensary will provide sufficient cannabis to meet the needs of the patients that procure cannabis at that dispensary.
  • A business plan or part thereof that shows operating expenses and profits.
  • A statement and evidence that the applicants have the financial wherewithal to open and operate the dispensary.
  • Evidence that the locations are not near schools or parks.

The foregoing is a partial list of what the Rhode Island application looks like, and what you can expect the Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensary application to require.  If you are interested in operating a dispensary, and would like some help drafting the application, contact us for assistance.

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