WBUR

Health Official Defends Vetting Process For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

BOSTON — After awarding 20 provisional licenses for statewide medical marijuana dispensaries, the Department of Public Health faces heavy scrutiny around the vetting process for those provisional licenses.

Questions of conflicts of interest and misleading letters of support have many wondering whether the department has mismanaged the rollout.

Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz told WBUR’s Morning Edition that the Department of Public Health is only partway through the vetting process, which includes verifying letters of support and approving operation plans before awarding licenses.

“We narrowed the applicants down from a hundred to 20,” he said. “If individuals misrepresented or lied on their applications, they won’t be getting a license here in Massachusetts, and that process is ongoing right now.”

Polanowicz also defended Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett’s oversight of the process. She held fundraisers in the mid-2000s for former Congressman William Delahunt, who is connected to three dispensaries that won provisional licenses.

“Because she was not involved at all with the selection process, we think that we created the right shield in terms of being able to keep her non-conflicted,” Polanowicz said.

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