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June 24, 2014

Lawrence marijuana dispensary application could be revived

A state representative investigating the medical marijuana dispensary state application process recommended the Department of Public Health reconsider several high-scoring applications not given provisional licenses in January, breathing new life into a proposed Lawrence dispensary and several others around the state.

State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, D-Boston, said in a letter to the Department of Public Health that dispensary applicants who received a score of 137, a number DPH has cited as the minimum for qualifying applications, should be included in the ongoing verification process, a group that would include BeWell Organic Medicine.

Charles Saba, president of BeWell, declined to comment.

BeWell proposed opening a dispensary in Lawrence, but was not selected for a provisional license in January. DPH gave it a score of 137 points on its application.

If DPH were to consider all the applications that scored 137 or higher, that would bring the total number of potential dispensaries to 34, one fewer the maximum allowed for the first round. In January, DPH named 20 applications for provisional licenses and offered eight others the opportunity to apply for a dispensary in a county that did not have a provisional dispensary. Six were not selected in January but scored 137 or higher on their applications.

Four counties — Berkshire, Dukes, Franklin and Nantucket — did not have a provisional dispensary. The law voters approved in 2012 called for at least one and no more than five in each county.

One of the applications not given a provisional licenses but scored higher than 137 was located in Franklin County.

DPH, in an 18-page letter on March 7 explaining the review and verification process, suggested that a $50,000 provisional certificate fee to be paid by the 20 named in January that originally was supposed to be nonrefundable may be refunded if any of the 20 are found to have included information that was “intentionally inaccurate” on the application.

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