Massachusetts is moving closer to implementation of the new Medical Marijuana law, passed by voters last November. 181 companies have applied for licenses to grow and supply the Commonwealth with the drug, competing for the 35 licenses the law provides.
16 of these companies are applying for licenses in Essex County, covering the North Shore area. Suffolk County, which includes Boston, has 21 applications and Middlesex County, covering most of the Metro-West area, has 47 applications.
Some of the applications are from national companies with prior experience in states that have already implemented medical marijuana laws and some are from newer local start-ups.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll says she has already met with three of these groups looking for a site in this famous town. On an interesting note, Salem officials voted down a proposed Methadone clinic that was looking for a site to treat opiate addicts in Salem just last year.
The law and its implementation have been controversial. Although it was passed by a wide margin by voters in November, as written it contained many loop holes. The State Department of Health has been tasked with implementation and is working diligently to answer all remaining questions and insure a roll-out process that will address the letter of the law while safe-guarding those at risk for problems with this drug. Massachusetts’s Department of Public Health, recently published a set of regulations for the program that is being hailed as “the gold standard” for such programs.
Marijuana, as with most drugs or medicines, carries some risks. Recent studies are showing that for a small sub-set of the population, due mostly to genetic factors, marijuana may be dangerous. “Data from epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown an association between cannabis use and subsequent addiction to heavy drugs and psychosis (i.e. schizophrenia).”