Wednesday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health selected Alternative Therapies Group Inc. as the first company authorized to grow and dispense medical marijuana. This is a massive milestone in the long fought battle to carry out the state’s 2012 medical marijuana law. There does not seem to be any specific events that finally kicked officials into gear, hopefully it was the repeated cries of help from families in need that were not getting any response from officials.
Alternative Therapies Group Inc. will operate a medical marijuana dispensary at 50 Grove St. in Salem and a cultivation facility at 10 Industrial Way, Amesbury.
Patients still face a lengthy wait to actually attain medical marijuana. Alternative Therapies Group estimated an initial harvest time of at least three months following further reviews, including product testing and proposed transportation plans.
Nichole Snow, deputy director of Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, a medical marijuana advocacy group. stated,
“I am overwhelmed with joy. It means that myself as a patient and other patients will have safe access to their much-needed medication. This is an exciting first step.”
The implementation of the dispensary approval and licensing process has been delayed multiple times after concerns were expressed about possible corruption and conflicts of interest. Contractors responsible for vetting dispensary applications have reportedly been pressured when examining some applicants, and another contractor failed to discover that one applicant had previously lost their marijuana license in Colorado because of multiple violations.
Karen O’Keefe of the Marijuana Policy Project commented,
“I have heard of minor complications in other states. But I have not seen anything that raised eyebrows… like in Massachusetts.”
While the past does not give much hope for the future of the Massachusetts medical marijuana program, we can only hope this is a step in the right direction.