Medical marijuana patients residing in Massachusetts finally have access to cannabis treatment after waiting three long years for the state to get its program off the ground.
Today marks the grand opening of the state’s first dispensary—Alternative Therapies Group, an operation located in an old manufacturing complex in Salem. The company was issued a temporary waiver earlier this week by Governor Charlie Baker, which provided them with special permission to launch operations without first having to undergo mandatory state requirements.
The state’s only functional dispensary began seeing patients early this morning on an appointment only basis. In contrast to the inner workings of similar operations across the country, Alternative Therapies does not keep any medical marijuana on display. Instead, patients are required to use a computer to digitally select their preferred strains, according to a report from The Boston Globe.
Unfortunately, the Department of Public Health prevents the dispensary from posting the prices of its products online. Only patients holding a state-issued medical marijuana card and authorized personnel can obtain this information. However, the company believes that their singular supplier status in the market has not contributed to overpriced medicine.
“Our pricing structure is aimed at providing medical-grade cannabis, grown with organic methods, in a safe environment at the lowest price,” reads the company’s website.
The state has awarded 15 out of the allotted 35 applicants with the privilege of growing and selling medical marijuana, but so far, only four have been given permission to open their doors. The other three dispensaries will reportedly set up shop in Northampton, Brockton and Ayer. In the future, the DOH claims, all applicants will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and those that meet the necessary requirements will receive approval.
The Massachusetts medical marijuana program had been sandbagged for so long that everyone in the state was beginning to lose hope that it would ever come to pass. In 2012, 63 percent of the voting population approved the program, but the state simply refused to get serious about its implementation.
Marijuana advocates are now pushing to get a recreational cannabis market approved in 2016. Two groups are working to get initiatives on the ballot in the next presidential election.