Mass. Whittles Down Potential Pot Dispensaries

 Updated September 23, 2013, 4:45 pm

State health officials are allowing 158 applicants for marijuana dispensary licenses to move to the next phase of the selection process.

A maximum of 35 licenses are allowed under a voter-approved law that makes marijuana available to patients with certain medical conditions.

The state had received applications from 181 groups hoping to open dispensaries. Twenty-two failed to meet the criteria during the state’s initial review. One withdrew.

Applications were denied for a variety of reasons, including failing to incorporate as a nonprofit or a lack of financial viability.

A committee will score the remaining applicants based on such factors as ability to meet the health needs of registered patients, geographical distribution of dispensaries, local support and public safety.

“They must show that they can comply with not only the state regulations, but with individual municipal rules, regulations, ordinances and/or bylaws,” Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett told WBUR.

Massachusetts hopes to begin awarding licenses by the year’s end.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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