Massachusetts is getting closer to opening medical marijuana dispensaries.
Monday the Department of Public Health released the names of 158 applicants that will move onto the second and final phase of the process.
Springfield attorney David Mech already runs the nonprofit First Aid Inc. helping soldiers return from overseas.
"Get them a couple bucks, or some clothes or maybe just sit and talk," Mech said.
Now he wants to add medical marijuana dispensary to the list.
"Patients can get the affordable and safe access they need and a cancer patient can now eat and get better quicker which will also reduce healthcare costs," he said.
His is just one of 24 Western Mass applications that are moving onto phase two of the state's fast-moving medical marijuana dispensary licensing process.
In all, 181 applicants were reviewed in phase one before the DPH made cuts depending on requirements like nonprofit status and financial stability.
Two Western Mass proposals were eliminated after phase one.
"While no decision to deny an applicant was taken lightly, we wanted to ensure that those who advance could demonstrate the ability to operate a successful non-profit Registered Marijuana Dispensary," DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett said in a statement.
The 158 applicants that did make it to phase two will be evaluated based on local support, security, and location.
Mech was hoping to build in Springfield near a local hospital but the city has temporarily banned dispensaries.
Finding a location is his next hurdle. But like other applicants, there is much more to consider for phase two.
"There's also a lot more involved. We have to consider security, zoning, we have to consider the needs of the community and also where other dispensaries are located," Mech said.
The DPH can register up to 35 nonprofit registered marijuana dispensaries across the state in the first year. Each county can have at least one, but no more than five dispensaries.
There is no set timeline yet on when the phase two applications are due.
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