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Head Of Mass. Medical Marijuana Program Named

This article is more than 6 years old.

The state has named an administrator of community health care programs to lead the state's medical marijuana program, which later this month will award 35 dispensary licenses from a pool of 100 applicants.

Karen van Unen was named executive director of the program Monday by the state Department of Public Health.

Van Unen was selected for her extensive experience in public health, nonprofit management and patient access. She previously served as chief operating officer at DotWell in Dorchester, which coordinates community and public health programs for more than 40,000 people in the Boston neighborhood.

"Her management expertise in public health and commitment to safety and patient access will successfully guide the implementation of the Commonwealth's medical marijuana program," Cheryl Bartlett, state public health commissioner, said in a statement.

Van Unen is a board member and past president of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. She began serving as a consultant on the implementation of the medical marijuana program following its approval by voters in November 2012.

In addition to selecting licensees, van Unen will have oversight over inspection of dispensaries and the creation of a database listing people authorized to get medical marijuana, the department said.

Van Unen has a bachelor of arts in psychology, a master's degree in education, and a master's in business administration, all from Boston University, according to her resume, which lists fluency in Spanish, Dutch, and Papiamentu, a language spoken in several Caribbean islands.

This article was originally published on January 14, 2014.

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