Massachusetts Licensing Process Flawed From Start, Report Says

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The process used to award dispensary licenses in Massachusetts was flawed from the start, beset by conflicts of interest, issues involving contractors and shortcomings in vetting applicants, according to a Boston Globe review of records.

The revelations could influence lawsuits against the state over its selection process for MMJ business permits and spur changes in how Massachusetts handles licensing going forward.

One contractor hired by the state’s health department to rank companies that wanted to operate dispensaries said it ran out of time to conduct background checks, while a separate contractor failed to note that a couple hired by several applicants had lost their license to operate in Colorado, the Globe reported.

Neither company was tasked with verifying applicants’ claims, and as a result many assertions went unchecked, according to the Globe.

Another issue was the hiring of former health department staff members by companies approved for licenses. Andy Epstein, who retired last year after helping craft regulations, was then hired by New England Treatment Access Inc., which was among dispensaries that won licenses, according to the newspaper. Daniel Delaney, another former health department employee, was a lobbyist for two companies that were approved by the state.

A superior court judge ruled earlier this year that the opening of dispensaries shouldn’t be delayed by legal action from companies that didn’t receive licenses, saying patients had already waited long enough.