While the state and local officials across Massachusetts continue wrestling with the particulars for how to regulate medical marijuana facilities within their borders, Vermont officials announced the state is clearing the way for a medical marijuana dispensary just over the line in Brattleboro. The Vermont Department of Public Safety announced Thursday it has conditionally approved locating a marijuana dispensary in Brattleboro.
The facility, to be operated by Southern Vermont Wellness, Inc. It will be the fourth and final marijuana dispensary in the state as part of the Vermont Marijuana Program, which was signed into law in 2011 as a way to dispense marijuana to people seeking relief from chronic medical conditions. Vermont in 2004 enacted a law allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. More recently, Vermont in July decriminalized marijuana possession for amounts of an ounce or less.
In Vermont, the approval of dispensaries and oversight of the registry is in the hands of the state Department of Public Safety, rather than individual communities. In Vermont, people who need want to uses medical marijuana for pain management for any serious or terminal illness may register with the state in order to be free from any criminal prosecution by police for possession of the drug. The dispensaries are not allowed to provide marijuana to anyone except people listed in the registry or their licensed caregiver.
The registry is open only to Vermont residents. In Massachusetts, the state Department of Public Health is eyeing Nov. 21 as the deadline for nonprofit companies to submit their proposals for operating medical marijuana shops. The department expects to award licenses on Jan. 21, and the expectation is that the first such facilities could open at least four months after that. The awarding could be complicated by more than 100 cities and towns across Massachusetts passing temporary moratoriums on licenses for medical marijuana facilities. The health department announced last month that it approved 158 preliminary applications for medical marijuana, clearing the applicants to continue to a second and final phase of bidding.
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