Recreational use of marijuana questioned

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Kaitlyn Akers

In Massachusetts, the use of medicinal marijuana passed in November of 2012; voters now question if it will be legalized for recreational use or not. The November ballot called for 35 dispensaries, but according to WGBH News, only 11 applicants have made it through the final process.

“The stage is now set for 2016, when measures to regulate marijuana like alcohol are expected to appear on ballots in at least five states,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the marijuana policy project, according to The Washington Post.

Recently, 50 people signed up for a class that would teach them how to properly grow marijuana for the dispensary, which will cost them about $1,500. People are now starting to question whether it is worth applying for the permits in Massachusetts if they aren’t being approved by the Department of Health.

“To date, MassDPH has banked $3,271,500 in application fees from prospective dispensaries,” said staff writer, Nick DeLuca, in BostonInno.com. “Consider that 181 applicants paid out $1,500 apiece. When that number was trimmed down to 100, they subsequently paid out $30,000 each in order to move on. Just 11 dispensaries stand to open their doors at this point. The fees are nonrefundable for the hopefuls that didn’t make the cut. But that’s not all. Dispensaries that are approved for licensure will have to pony up annual fees of $50,000 for registration, $500 for dispensary agent registration and another $50 for patient registration. And then there’s an architectural review of the premises that will cost at least $1,500.”

This begs the question as to why people are pouring so much money into a market that doesn’t seem to be taking off.

“Months go by and another month goes by and another month goes by, and they said they were going to have applications for the other counties that aren’t covered in October; and now they pushed that back to November,” said Northeastern Institute’s founder and longtime marijuana activist, Mickey Martin. “So at some point, where is the harm in not putting a dispensary in place because you don’t think the application is properly vetted?”

So, where does that leave those who have a prescription for medicinal marijuana? Those who do have a prescription are forced to wait until the state builds the dispensaries because their card is issued from Massachusetts.

And what about those who desire to have marijuana legal just for fun? Will there be regulations to having marijuana legal for recreational use, such as restrictions on driving or operating heavy machinery?

Advocates will have to be patient as they wait for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to give the green light for the dispensaries, and even the law to pass recreational use of marijuana.

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