“There’s nothing in regulations that forces those applicants to commit to registered qualified patients in their community,” said Nichole Snow, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance.
Massachusetts is likely to face a shortage of marijuana once legal sales begin. Medical marijuana patients want to make sure their supply of medicine is protected.
Latulippe said patients advocated to city and town officials on behalf of medical marijuana dispensaries. “If they think they’re not going to serve patients, I’ll have the same patients come out and speak against their facilities,” Latulippe said.
The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance wants the Cannabis Control Commission to require applicants to provide a time frame in which they will open for medical patients.
Latulippe said he believes the commission is disregarding the law, although his group does not have money to sue.
State law authorizes priority certification for dispensaries with “provisional or final certificates of registration in good standing … that are operational and dispensing to qualifying patients.” That language is ambiguous because dispensaries with provisional certificates are not allowed to dispense.
The Cannabis Control Commission interpreted it to allow dispensaries with provisional certificates to get priority certification.
Gov. Charlie Baker introduced a provision in a supplemental budget bill that would remove the language of “operational and dispensing.” The bill has not yet passed.
Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the Yes on 4 group that supported legalization, said the spirit of the law was to grant anyone with a provisional certificate priority, since they are already vetted.
“I certainly hope that if anybody decides to change their business plan and not include medical marijuana, they should be very aware of the pushback they’re going to get from the town,” Borghesani said. “It would not be a good idea to start your host community agreement while being accused of a bait and switch.”