Pay-to-Play in Massachusetts’ Medical Cannabis Industry?

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Massachusetts cities are getting increasingly wealthier off the backs of medical cannabis companies that are agreeing to pay municipalities sizable fees in exchange for the rights to do business, according to an investigation by the Boston Globe.

In the town of Worcester, for example, one dispensary agreed to shell out $450,000 over three years, as well as $200,000 afterwards, if local officials gave the company the green light.

In the town of Springfield, local officials are working on a deal that would get the municipality 7% of a dispensary’s revenues, as well as a $50,000 annual donation to the city police department, which could eventually cost the company “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the Globe found.

In Salem, just north of Boston, a year-old dispensary contributed over $82,000 to the city’s coffers, the Globe reported.

Granting municipalities such power over MMJ licensing has contributed to the delay statewide of opening dispensaries, medical cannabis advocates say, and has resulted in a snail’s pace when it comes to the rollout of Massachusetts’ industry. To date, only six dispensaries have opened, while 174 applications are still wading through red tape.