MA dispensaries face strong opposition at local level

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Only seven dispensaries have opened in the four years since Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing medical marijuana, reflecting opposition in some communities.

Local opponents cite concerns that dispensaries would bring an increase in crime and that the stores don’t mesh with small-town values, among others.

The opposition has made it more difficult for MMJ entrepreneurs to do business in the state and could signal additional hurdles should Massachusetts voters approve legalization of recreational cannabis on Nov. 8.

After a change in the state licensing process for dispensaries in 2015, business owners were forced to appeal to a local city council or board of selectmen in order to move the approval process forward. About 40% of licensing applications have stalled while waiting for approval from a city council since the overhaul, and another 21% haven’t made it that far, according to the Boston Globe.

In September, Massachusetts health regulators proposed changes to the state’s medical marijuana program to help increase patient numbers. The state had nearly 30,000 active patients registered through the end of August, as well as 167 registered physicians.

A recent poll showed that 53% of Massachusetts voters are in favor of recreational marijuana, but 41% said they’d be bothered by a marijuana store in their neighborhood.