Those vying for a license to open and operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Massachusetts will know Wednesday if their application has been accepted into phase two of the process, administered through the Department of Public Health.
Since Massachusetts voted last fall to allow medical-marijuana dispensaries to set up shop in state, 181 nonprofit groups have applied to the government for consideration. On Wednesday that group will be decreased for phase two. The Department of Public Health has not publicly said how many applicants will be allowed into the second phase of the project.
The state Department of Public Health is allowing a maximum of five dispensaries per county on a "first-come, first-served" basis. According to a list of applicants, issued online last month, many applicants have filed applications in multiple counties.
Applicants had to hand-deliver applications, along with a $1,500 fee, last month. If they apply through the second round, they must pay an additional $30,000 and have to be able to show they have at least $500,000 in liquid assets.
Both fees are nonrefundable, and will be used to meet the program's operational costs, including hiring staff and training inspectors to monitor the industry.
Once up and running, dispensaries must pay an annual $50,000 fee for a state-approved certificate of registration.
During phase one, applicants were reviewed on a number of factors, including nonprofit status and financial stability, according to the DPH. They had to also report whether anyone in their organization had ever been convicted of a felony drug conviction.
During phase two, applicants will undergo a strict review by an independent selection committee. Factors they will look at include appropriateness of their site, geographical distribution of dispensaries, local support, and the applicant's ability to meet the overall health need of patients while focusing on public safety.
Massachusetts is among 20 states that have authorized medical marijuana. According to The Associated Press, applicants are competing for a maximum of 35 licenses allowed under law, which will make marijuana available to patients with certain medical conditions, including cancer, Parkinson's disease and AIDS.
David Kibbe, communications director for the state Department of Public Health, said the next steps for his group include reviewing all of the collected applications. He said the process can be very competitive, and there are specific requirements each applicant must meet.
"They have to demonstrate financial viability," Kibbe said. "There's a series of background questions that are asked, and they have to incorporate with the secretary of state as a nonprofit."
The DPH hopes to have all licenses issued by the end of the calendar year.
The list of phase two applicants will be posted online Wednesday afternoon.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Tout and Twitter @kcaraganis.