Patients Surge in MA But MMJ Licenses Languish

A licensing logjam is preventing dozens of medical marijuana dispensary applicants in Massachusetts from tapping into a surging market for new patients.

“The application process is completely jammed up … and that’s not fair to patients who’ve waited for years for this program to get off the ground,” Nichole Snow, director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, told the Gloucester Times.

Through April 30, the Bay State counted 24,196 active MMJ patients.

But but only 16,923 patients – about 70% of the total – had bought marijuana through a dispensary, according to the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program. Only 10,462 patients – about 43% of the total – were served during April.

Some advocates say there is not enough supply and many patients are too far from the six dispensaries that are open in the state to access medical cannabis, the Gloucester Times reported.

“Just because we have these dispensaries doesn’t mean patients are able to get to them,” Uma Dhanabalan, a certified recommending physician in Natick, Massachusetts, said.

State regulators expect at least 98% of the state’s population will live within 25 miles of a registered dispensary, based on actual and proposed locations being considered, a state health department spokesman told the paper.

In April, patients bought 9,603 ounces of marijuana, according to the department, up from 8,002 ounces sold the previous month.