Our opinion: DPH, DCF failings
The process for selecting medical marijuana clinics and the strategy for monitoring at-risk children in Massachusetts have both been found sadly lacking in recent weeks. Hope emerged last week that each problem may be rectified to at least some degree, although in the latter case, the damage done cannot be undone.
It has grown increasingly apparent that a clinic selection process corrupted by politics and sloppiness should be done over, and an important legislator, Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, who was designated by House Speaker Robert DeLeo to investigate the clinic licensing process, has urged a partial do-over. His proposal that any clinic that scored 137 points out of a possible 163 in the Health Department’s convoluted ranking system gives the top qualifiers another chance. Its weakness is that qualified applicants that scored below this arbitrary total would be sidelined.
A major weakness in that point system was exposed last week by the Boston Globe, which reported that applications who had actual experience in cultivating medical cannabis were given little credit for that expertise in the DPH rankings. The Globe reported that Medical Marijuana, a company owned by former US Representative William Delahunt, received three of the 20 licenses even though its cultivation chief had never led such a facility, while the seven companies advised by a Colorado facility with considerable experience in this area were all denied licenses. The DPH placed a strong evidence on security at clinics, which it should, but that should not preclude rewarding applicants who know what they are doing when it comes to growing medical marijuana.
The recommendations of the Child Welfare League of America, called upon by Governor Patrick in January to review the practices of the state Department of Children and Families following the disappearance of a 5-year-old supposedly under the protection of the DCF, were not surprising but revealed the depth of the agency’s problems. The League recommended reducing social workers’ caseloads, an upgrade of technology, increased monitoring of foster parents with criminal records and quicker action to find runaways from foster homes. Some of these changes involve better funding. Some involve instituting common sense practices that should always have been part of DCF’s mandate.