Update: 5 Berkshire applicants rejected for medical marijuana licenses


PITTSFIELD -- None of the five applications for a medical marijuana facility in Berkshire County was among the 20 proposals receiving license approval Friday from the state Department of Public Health.

The DPH released the names of the first nonprofits approved for a required state license to dispense medical marijuana. The department also released a list of six nonprofits that were not approved at the locations they applied for but were invited to apply for a facility in another city or location that would be underserved.

Among those are Patriot Care Corp., which had applied for sites in Northampton and Worcester.

It was unclear Friday exactly how many proposals would be licensed initially by the DPH as the state allows medical marijuana production and dispensary facilities for the first time. They were approved in a voter referendum in November 2012, which allowed up to 35 facilities in the state and specified at least one, but no more than five, in each county.

According to the DPH website, inviting some high-scoring applicants to consider locating elsewhere "will allow the [DPH] Selection Committee to review high-scoring applicants who wish to seek a change of location to an underserved county to maximize patient access. Additional information on this process will be announced in the near future."

Another 61 nonprofits were listed Friday by the DPH as "not selected at this time" for a license.

These include Manna Wellness Inc., which sought to establish a facility in Pittsfield, Prospect Lake Inc. (dba The Circe Center), which proposed a facility in Great Barrington, Total Health & Wellness, which applied for facilities in both Pittsfield and North Adams, and Greenhouse Dispensaries Inc., proposing a facility in Lee.

Berkshire County was among four counties in the state, including Franklin, Dukes and Nantucket, that currently has no facility proposal with provisional license approval from the state DPH.

Berkshire County, with a population of 131,219, was the largest without an approved facility plan. Franklin County has 71,372 resident, and Dukes (Martha’s Vineyard) and Nantucket, both island counties, have fewer than 17,000 residents.

Information on the DPH website notes that the license selection committee used a scoring system and other factors in approving the first 20 facilities in Massachusetts. The proposals selected received scores of 137 or higher of a possible 163 points.

In the Berkshires, Manna Wellness scored highest at 120 points for a site off West Housatonic Street. The Circe Center received 112 points for a Great Barrington site, Greenhouse Dispensary in Lee received 102 points, and Total Health & Wellness 81 and 76 points respectively for sites in Pittsfield, on Dalton Avenue, and in North Adams.

The closest facility site to the Berkshires approved was in Northampton, proposed by New England Treatment Access. In Hampden County, Debilitating Medical Condition Treatment Centers was approved for a Holyoke site.

Two nonprofits, Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, and New England Treatment Access Inc., were approved for two different sites. Middlesex County was approved for four sites; Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, Worcester and Barnstable counties for two locations each.

Nonprofits and the locations proposed were judged on geographic diversity, location, local support, financing, an ability to meet patient needs, security plans, among other factors, the DPH said.

A total of 159 nonprofits sought one of the first state licenses, but that figure had been trimmed to about 100 by Friday. A number of nonprofits sought licenses in two or more locations.

Having a state license is a prerequisite for a nonprofit to seek local permits for a facility. Final approvals of the finished facilities will be required before they can begin producing and dispensing medical marijuana.

That stage is expected to push opening of the first facilities into late 2014 or early 2015.

To reach Jim Therrien:


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