State Sued Over Medical Marijuana Permitting

A company that wanted to open one of Massachusetts' first medical marijuana dispensaries wants a judge to overturn the state's decision to reject its application.

In a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court in Boston on Tuesday, Brighton Health Advocates argues that the state's June 27 decision was not based on substantial evidence and should be voided.

The company, which proposed a marijuana facility in Fairhaven, had been among 20 applicants given preliminary approval in January to open a dispensary. In June, state regulators announced they had narrowed the list of applicants to 11 applicants following additional reviews.

Many of those are now preparing to open their dispensaries; some hope to open by the end of the year or early 2015.

Brighton Health Advocates accuses the state Department of Public Health of making "increasingly onerous demands for information to search for a pretext" to ultimately reject its application.

The department, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment, said in its June letter that the nonprofit proposed a corporate structure that appeared to violate state regulations.

The company had initially proposed paying a for-profit management company to handle some major tasks, including leasing and preparing a building space for the dispensary, acquiring the necessary permits and training employees.

The management company would have received 20 percent of the dispensary's monthly gross revenue, among other payments. It also would have been headed by the same executive team that heads the nonprofit.

After the department's inquiries, Brighton Health Advocates told state officials it had terminated the management arrangement.

Massachusetts' medical marijuana law, which took effect in January 2013, allows for up to 35 state-licensed dispensaries authorized to grow and sell marijuana to qualified patients for the treatment of cancer, glaucoma, and other ailments.

This article was originally published on August 26, 2014.


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