Mass Med Card


First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens In Massachusetts

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1 230x230 photoFox – The first medical marijuana dispensary in Massachusetts opened Wednesday – by appointment only – nearly three years after voters overwhelmingly approved the drug’s therapeutic use.

Patients lined up outside the Alternative Therapies Group’s dispensary in Salem a day after state regulators signed off on its final paperwork.

Access to the dispensary in a converted factory building that houses other businesses will be restricted to patients with a state-issued marijuana registration card.

No marijuana is grown or processed at the Salem site. The company said their cultivation facility is not open to the public.

On its website, Alternative Therapies Group said Department of Public Health regulations prevent dispensaries from advertising the price of marijuana. Pricing is available only to qualifying patients and personal caregivers at the dispensary facility.

“Our pricing structure is aimed at providing medical-grade cannabis, grown with organic methods, in a safe environment at the lowest price,” the firm said on its website.

Patients with a documented financial hardship could qualify to purchase one ounce per month with a discount, but that their hardship program has limited capacity, the company said.

Alternative Therapies Group said they will offer a variety of strains of marijuana grown with organic methods, initially in bud form only.

Over time, the company hopes to expand their product line “to include more strains and MIPs (Marijuana Infused Products), such as tinctures, baked goods, topical creams, salves and vaporizer pens.” The company also said it is not now selling seeds or plants.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday issued a one-time, temporary waiver allowing Alternative Therapies Group to open despite issues with testing required under state law.

Under regulations adopted by Massachusetts, samples of medicinal marijuana must be examined for cannabinoids, solvents, mycotoxins and other microbiological contaminants along with heavy metals and pesticides.

Alternative Therapy Group submitted samples, but labs in Massachusetts were unable to test for seven of the 18 mandated pesticides. Under current state regulations, that would have made the marijuana unable to be sold by Massachusetts dispensaries.

The waiver allows Alternative Therapy Group to sell marijuana for medical use with a label that discloses to the consumer the chemicals that were not tested.

Voters approved a ballot question in 2012 allowing for the licensing of up to 35 outlets to sell marijuana to patients suffering from conditions including cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

Implementation of the law has sputtered and no other dispensaries have opened, but the state’s legal marijuana landscape could soon become even more expansive.

Two pro-marijuana groups are vowing to put questions on next year’s ballot fully legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

Massachusetts voters have been open to relaxing marijuana laws. In 2008, voters approved a question decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

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06/25/2015 |

Governor Baker Issues Waiver To Allow Marijuana Dispensary To Open

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BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday issued a one-time, temporary waiver aimed at helping the state’s first marijuana dispensary begin selling pot for medicinal purposes.

The waiver applies to Alternative Therapy Group of Salem.

Under regulations adopted by Massachusetts, samples of medicinal marijuana must be examined for cannabinoids, solvents, mycotoxins and other microbiological contaminants along with heavy metals and pesticides.

Alternative Therapy Group submitted samples, but labs in Massachusetts were unable to test for seven of the 18 mandated pesticides. Under current state regulations, that would have made the marijuana unable to be sold by Massachusetts dispensaries.

The waiver allows Alternative Therapy Group to sell marijuana for medical use with a label that discloses to the consumer the chemicals that were not tested.

Voters approved a ballot question in 2012 allowing for the licensing of up to 35 outlets to sell marijuana to patients suffering from conditions including cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

Implementation of the law has sputtered and no dispensaries have opened.

“Patients have waited to access marijuana for medical purposes for far too long,” Baker said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “This waiver will allow industry laboratories a little more time to reach full operation while providing safe amounts of medical marijuana for qualifying patients who need it.”

According to its website, Alternative Therapy Group said it expects to open to the public beginning in early summer and by appointment only.

“ATG intends to offer a safe and enjoyable experience for our patients,” the company said.

Under the three-month waiver, the company may only dispense a maximum of 4.23 ounces of marijuana to any qualifying patient for their 60-day supply and must provide patients with instructions to consume no more than 2 grams per day.

During that time, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health will review the standards for naturally occurring minerals to ensure they are attainable for future dispensaries.

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders backed Baker’s decision.

“We are not lowering our standards for the testing of marijuana for medical purposes,” Sudders said in statement. “The waiver allows for small amounts of marijuana to be dispensed for medical use while testing facilities ramp up.”

Kevin Gilnack, head of a trade association representing dispensaries, called the decision “a significant step forward for qualified patients.”

Gilnack, however, faulted Massachusetts for being “the only state that has established its standards on the unsupported assumption that a patient might consume an entire ounce of cannabis in one sitting.”

The state’s legal marijuana landscape could soon become even more expansive.

Two pro-marijuana groups are vowing to put questions on next year’s ballot fully legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

Massachusetts voters have been open to relaxing marijuana laws. In 2008, voters approved a question decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

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06/19/2015 |

Cape Cod And Plymouth Dispensaries Win Lawsuit Against State

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Marijuana rx Bottle photoCape News – A medical marijuana dispensary proposed for Mashpee is back on track after a Boston judge ruled this week that the state failed to follow its own set of regulations when denying the permit, concluding a civil suit filed by the medical marijuana company last year.

Justice of the Superior Court Mitchell H. Kaplan from Suffolk Superior Court signed a memorandum Monday, April 24, allowing Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, Inc. to move onto the next phase of its bid for an application for a dispensary at a 14-acre property at 95 Echo Road in Mashpee.

Judge Kaplan’s ruling found that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and more specifically, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services’ Medical Use of Marijuana Program, failed to act on its own regulations when denying Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, Inc., its bid in June.

Further, the judge found that the state agency created an additional provision in its procedure and thus acted out of “prejudice.”

“The favorable judgment is a huge step forward for us,” said Jonathan H. Herlihy, the chief of operations for the medical product company. He said January is a safe bet for opening the dispensary doors in Mashpee.

But the news of the judge’s decision has been a surprise at Mashpee Town Hall and some selectmen suggested that they would like to revisit the permit or at least speak with the principals of the medicinal company before they set up shop.

When the board of selectmen originally accepted the application from Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, Inc., former congressman William D. Delahunt was the president of the company and Raymond A. Tamasi, chief executive officer of Gosnold on Cape Cod, was on the board of directors. Mr. Delahunt left around the same time as media pressure mounted about a possible conflict of interest because of his former ties to Boston City Hall. Mr. Tamasi had already resigned his position on the board of directors.

Selectman John J. Cahalane said following the judge’s decision, he would like to revisit the medical company’s application because it could be a different business without Mr. Tamasi and Mr. Delahunt. He said that those two were the local connection, the reason that he changed his mind from an opponent to a proponent of the application. “I’m a little concerned,” Mr. Cahalane said. “To me, it’s like buying a car because it is the color red. And then, all of a sudden, it’s a yellow car.”

Mr. Cahalane said there have been repeated attempts to have the company back to the town to discuss the application but without any success. He said that there are a number of questions he would like answered.

Mr. Cahalane also said that it could be that nothing has changed in the business, but he would still like to meet the representatives.

Mr. Herlihy said that Medical Marijuana’s next step following the judge’s ruling is to meet with the state Department of Public Health. If the state decides not to pursue an appeal, the next phase in the application process is permitting with the town. Mr. Herlihy added that because of Judge Kaplan’s strong wording, an appeal from the state is unlikely.

The state has 60 days to file an appeal.

Scott Zoback, a spokesman for the state medical marijuana program, issued what he said was the only statement the agency would make in regard to this week’s decision. “As always, the MMJ Program’s top priority is ensuring safe, appropriate patient access across the Commonwealth,” the statement read.

Mr. Herlihy said that the company’s first step following an understanding with the department of health is to grow its medicinal product in a facility in Plymouth. In the judge’s ruling, the company was also approved to pursue a dispensary in Plymouth.

In February 2014, the DPH approved the Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts proposal as well as 19 other applicants in the state out of 100 that applied. Medical Marijuana was the highest-rated company approved of by the state in the first two phases of the application process, given an “expert score” or 160 out of 163 points.

After its successful first stages, the company submitted a $50,000 registration fee required in the process.

According to Judge Kaplan’s findings, there was media attention in the weeks following that attracted political attention and concerns that DPH should re-do the selection process.

In March 2014, Karen van Unen, executive director of the state marijuana program, informed the company that there would be a post-selection “verification phase,” in which DPH would meet with applicants, verify their representations of local support, and a number of other procedures.

On June 27, the state rejected the proposal because of a conflict of interest and a conversation that took place between Mr. Delahunt and then senate president Therese M. Murray.

Judge Kaplan would rule that this “verification phase” was not in the original procedures and therefore the state acted incorrectly. He also said that there was nothing wrong with Mr. Delahunt meeting Ms. Murray, which he had done during the application process.

The state also rejected the application due to the company’s plans to use 25 percent of its revenue to reimburse a management company called Triple M, which has invested in the medical company. The issue raised concerns that the medical company would not be a nonprofit business, which is part of the state medical marijuana restrictions.

Judge Kaplan also rejected the idea, noting that other companies had similar payment structures.

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05/01/2015 |

Northampton MA Dispensary Is “Turnkey” And Ready To Open

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ML – NORTHAMPTON — A brand-new medical marijuana dispensary located in a former Northampton physicians office is in turnkey condition, ready to open its doors, and only awaits a final Certificate of Registration from the state to start selling cannabis products, officials said this week.

Building inspectors have signed off on all local permits, including construction, plumbing, and electrical work at 118 Conz St., the future home of New England Treatment Access, according to city records. The project gained site plan approval from the Northampton Planning Board in May.

New England Treatment Access spokeswoman Dot Joyce said Monday the non-profit, headed by Swampscott resident Arnon Vered, expects it will soon receive its license from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which will allow it to begin grow operations at its facility in Franklin.

“Things are going very well,” said Joyce.

Even then, because Massachusetts law requires that dispensaries grow their first batch of marijuana from seed, there will be a several-months delay between licensure and the time the Northampton dispensary has any products to sell, said Joyce.

New England Treatment Access plans dispensaries in Brookline and Northampton as well as the Franklin grow facility. The two dispensaries are among 11 given the green light by last June to enter the final segment, or “inspectional phase,” of the state permitting process.

Department of Public Health spokesman Scott Zoback said Tuesday the inspectional phase entails numerous site visits and inspections. Applicants must demonstrate their readiness to cultivate, package, and distribute medical marijuana in a safe and secure manner that’s in compliance with all laws and regulations.

“It’s a soup-to-nuts check before final approval,” said Zoback, who declined to estimate how long it might be before a decision is reached.

Zoback explained that Massachusetts is a “seed-to-sale” state, meaning that all products sold at the Northampton dispensary must be manufactured from marijuana grown at the Franklin facility. While the first batch must be grown from seed, other propagation methods will be allowed once the original plants are established, he confirmed.

Zoback also said the final license would allow for cultivation to begin, with additional inspections needed before the two dispensaries open to the public.

On New Year’s Eve, the DPH issued its first Certificate of Registration ever to Alternative Therapies Group, Inc., in Salem. ATG is now licensed to grow, but has not yet opened its dispensary doors.

It’s been a long road for New England Treatment Access in its bid to open a dispensary in Northampton.

Of 181 original applicants, NETA was one of 20 to receive a “provisional dispensary license” in January 2014. In August, former governor Deval Patrick put the organization’s application on hold after reports that CEO Kevin Fisher had embellished his resume. Fisher stepped down, CFO Vered filled his shoes, and the DPH lifted the hold in November.

In the meantime, provisional pot licenses granted to companies associated with former Congressman William Delahunt and Springfield businessman Heriberto Flores were rescinded last summer. Flores was deemed “not responsible or suitable to operate a medical marijuana dispensary” wrote Karen van Unen, executive director of the Medical Use of Marijuana Program. State regulators told Delahunt in June that his three applications were off the table because he planned to divert excessive profits to a management company in which he had a financial interest.

The state licensing process, deeply flawed from the start, sparked more than two-dozen lawsuits, according to the Boston Globe. More than two years after Massachusetts voters approved the medical use of marijuana, not a single dispensary has opened.

The DPH had originally hoped to approved 35 dispensaries by the end of 2013.

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03/05/2015 |

Greenfield MA Doctor Advertising Medical Marijuana Cards On A Billboard

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WGGB – Medical marijuana was approved by Massachusetts voters more than two years ago but to date we have yet to see a dispensary open.

The Massachusetts Department of Public health has come under fire from some who say the state isn’t doing enough to allow patient access to medical marijuana.

A local doctor is making sure that when those dispensaries open, the patients who need medical marijuana will have it.

There is a billboard along I-291 in Springfield.

It advertises finding relief with medical marijuana.

DocsConsult Medical says people are taking notice,” The reason I put the billboard up was because I wanted the public to know that there does exist a physician owned and a physician run practice in terms of consultation for medical marijuana,” says Dr. Kwesi Ntiforo.

Dr. Ntiforo says he carefully screens a patient before certifying them for medical marijuana,” It involves considering the patient’s health condition, anticipating how marijuana could adversely affect these health conditions and setting up a kind of monitoring system,” says Dr. Ntiforo.

Dr. Ntiforo says there is a need for medical marijuana for certain patients,” One of the most common complaints is chronic pain, the next leading cause of complaints is muscle spasms from multiple sclerosis,” says Dr. Ntiforo.

So as medical marijuana dispensaries prepare to open across Massachusetts, those who are certified for its use continue to wait to get the treatment they feel will help ease the pain from their conditions.

The medical marijuana dispensary here in Greenfield is going up at this old American Legion building.

It is being converted for that use right now.

They expect the dispensary to open some time in the Spring.

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02/26/2015 |
Copyright 2013 MassMedCard.com
Copyright 2013 MassMedCard.com