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Challenges In Legalizing Medical Marijuana

A worker cultivates medical marijuana inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP/Brennan Linsley)

A worker cultivates medical marijuana inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP/Brennan Linsley)

It’s still early in the state’s effort to license legal medical marijuana dispensaries, but it’s been a bumpy start.

No sooner had the state Department of Public Health granted 20 dispensary licenses than charges of conflict of interest came up. At the same time, we learned from the Boston Globe that at least three applicants claimed to have support from local politicians — support that the local politicians denied giving.

So where does this leave the state’s effort to legalize medical pot? Do these early bumps in the road bode poorly for the future of medical marijuana in this state or is this just growing pains that are to be expected?


Karen Van Unen, executive director of the Medical Use of Marijuana Program for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Martha Bebinger, WBUR health reporter.

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  • Karyn Donahue

    I think the introduction of medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts is a thinly veiled attempt to allow a choice few to make millions of dollars in profit before marijuana is eventually legalized across the board in Massachusetts. A good example is former District Attorney Bill Delahunt being granted provisional certification for three of the 15 dispensaries that will eventually exist. Who knows better than a district attorney the money that is to be made by selling drugs? He is politically connected, wealthy enough to come up with the half million dollars required for each dispensary, and probably looking to pad his retirement fund before pot is available on the open market. The fact that physicians are still waiting for real scientific facts to back up their ability to prescribe marijuana is very telling. Why allow the facts to get in the way of allowing the rich (and connected) to get richer? Call me cynical, but my prediction is that marijuana will be legalized in Massachusetts in the next 5 to 8 years, but not before the inner circle skims off the top first.

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