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STEVE ELLIOTT

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High Price of Admission Weeds Out the Little Guys

Goodbye, Mom and Pop; Hello, Big Weed? Under the proposed rules drawn up by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, there’s a steep price of admission for those wishing to operate a medical marijuana dispensary.

Under the 45 pages of draft rules, issued March 29, the cannabis outlets would have to have $500,000 in escrow before they could receive an operating license, according to the Boston Herald.

If you include the routine costs of running a business, the Medical Marijuana Business Daily estimates that it’s going to take around $1 million for dispensaries to open their doors.

But that’s not the end of it. Once you open one of those million-dollar marijuana shops, you’d have to function as a nonprofit, grow your own weed and, oh yeah, prove you can be operational within 120 days of being licensed, according to MMBD.

No wholesale distribution of cannabis products will be allowed, the department said in a news release. “This allows for uniform seed-to-sale control and maximized security,” the release said.

Because it takes several months to cultivate marijuana from seed or clone to flower and then cure the stuff for use, those stipulations could be prohibitive for many businesses, reports Hunter Stuart at The Huffington Post.

Heidi Heilman was president of something called the "Massachusetts Prevention Alliance," which attempted to stop the legalization of medical marijuana in the state. The group had its ass handed to it by the voters, who approved MMJ by 63 percent. Now Heilman is reduced to sniping from the sidelines about "Big Weed"
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Heidi Heilman was president of something called the “Massachusetts Prevention Alliance,” which attempted to stop the legalization of medical marijuana in the state. The group had its ass handed to it by the voters, who approved MMJ by 63 percent. Now Heilman is reduced to sniping from the sidelines about “Big Weed”
[Patriot Ledger]

“Those small mom-and-pop shops that wanted to open a clinic for suffering people, they don’t stand a chance,” said medical marijuana Heidi Heilman, blasting what she called the “big business” behind medicinal cannabis. (To put things into perspective, Heilman hates medical marijuana and fought against its passage tooth and nail in Massachusetts last fall. The voters ignored her hapless ass.)

Enhancing the “big money” scenario even farther is the fact that out-of-state applicants, surprisingly, will be allowed. That means existing dispensary organizations from other medical marijuana states — and, of course, the money they already have — could greatly impact the process in Massachusetts.

“That’s way too much for me,” said Steven Lamothe of Fitchburg, Mass., who went to a medical marijuana seminar at the Sheraton Boston on Wednesday, reports Christine McConville at the Boston Herald. “I’d really like to get into the business, but I just can’t afford those prices.”

The news isn’t all bad for patients, however. According to the draft regulations, doctors will have the freedom to decide which patients need medical marijuana, and allow those with a doctor’s authorization to possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis every two months, reports Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe.

According to The Associated Press, in some circumstances patients could possess more than that and could be allowed to grow their own.

The regulations aren’t final; the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is taking feedback on its website until April 20 (yes, really, that day) and in public hearings on April 19 in Northampton, Boston, and Plymouth.

“There is still time for citizens to weight in on this proposal and I encourage them to do so through the Department’s public hearings or through written comment,” said Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Health.

The committee is slated to vote on final rules on May 8. If they approve them, those rules will take effect on May 24, the department said.

 

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