Recently the media has been abuzz about the fact that over 180 applicants have placed an application to receive a state-authorized license to open a medical cannabis dispensary in Massachusetts, which are legal thanks to an initiative approved by voters last year. What many aren’t talking about, is how unfair the application process is.
Of these 180 applicants, only 35 will receive a license. To decide which of the 35 will be the recipients, the state’s Department of Health has separated the application process into two steps; the first being the initial application and fee: If the application is approved, it will move on to the second phase, where a panel will consider each application to decide whether or not the the filer should receive a license. Here’s where the absurdity kicks in; regardless of whether or not the applicant is eventually approved for a license, they must pay $30,000 to go through the second phase of the application process. The fee is entirely, 100% nonrefundable.
This – and it really doesn’t need much explaining why – is ridiculous, unfair, and serves no point but to needlessly limit the majority of people, putting the industry almost entirely in the hands of the rich, who will be the only ones able to put down $30,000 knowing there’s a considerable chance it will simply disappear forever, with nothing in return to show for it.
Once accepted, dispensaries must pay a $50,000 a year “registration fee” in order to stay in business, which is a cost that will almost certainly result in an increased price of medicine for patients.
We urge advocates in Massachusetts to contact their Department of Health, and contact their district’s legislators, urging them to do four things; reduce the $50,000 a year registration fee, open up the application process as to allow more than 35 dispensaries, remove the nonrefundable part of the application process, as well as reduce the cost of it substantially.
This may be a lot at once, but with enough support, these are reasonable changes that can be made.
At the very least, advocates across the country in states that have yet to pass medical cannabis laws should make sure to fight against similarly restrictive fees.