BOSTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Massachusetts health officials issued 20 licenses Friday for medical marijuana dispensaries, after voters in 2012 approved a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana for medical treatment.
The ballot measure allowed the state to issue a maximum of 35 licenses with a minimum of one but not more than five dispensaries in each county. State health officials spread the 20 licenses over 10 of Massachusetts' 14 counties.
“Eight highly qualified applicants who were not granted their proposed location will be invited to seek a change of location to a county without provisional approval for a Registered Marijuana Dispensary,” the state health department said in a statement.
There was intense competition for the licenses, with 159 applications submitted last fall, which was narrowed down to 100 last November, leaving 80 companies in the last round.
“We are pleased to announce that qualified patients will soon have full access to marijuana for medical use in Massachusetts,” said MMJ Program Executive Director Karen van Unen. “Only dispensaries with the highest quality applications were selected to be a part of this new industry, which will create hundreds of jobs while maintaining community safety.”
Former Congressman William Delahunt from Massachusetts's 10th congressional district, was granted three of the highly-coveted licenses. Worcester, followed by Boston, had the most applications to open a medical marijuana dispensary.
Health officials elected the finalists by scrutinizing their applications for their finances, business plans, whether they had support from local leaders and their ability to grow marijuana. The licensees will be subjected to a final inspection by the state health department to ensure they are complying with any local permitting requirements.
[Mass. Health and Human Services]