Patrick: No one in Mass. has license to sell medical marijuana

BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Governor Deval Patrick says no one in the state has a license to sell medical marijuana, but the Department of Health announced 20 dispensary locations just a few weeks ago.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health sent FOX 25 a statement, which says that they are "confident that the review process will result in the highest quality dispensaries being given final approval."

However, it's their own process that has everybody wondering if the state is properly equipped to not just approve, but oversee medical marijuana.

"No licenses have been given. No provisional licenses have been given. What we have is a multi-step process of screening out applicants," Patrick said.

Patrick explained that even though state public health officials had announced weeks ago that 20 licenses to operate medical marijuana dispensaries had been awarded, nothing is set in stone.

"Don't get ahead of where we are. There was a balance struck here about trying to let the public in through transparency to the process even though the process was unfinished," he said.

Since voters in Massachusetts approved medical marijuana, there have been questions about the process of choosing who will get these lucrative licenses. Three of the licenses were awarded to one company, Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts. That firm's president is former Congressman William Delahunt.

FOX 25 reached out to his firm, but were told that he is out of the country.

Then there's what happened to Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson. One company claimed in its application to have Jackson's support to open up shop near Boston Medical Center.

It did not have his support, but it received a license anyway.

"I would be under the assumption that the Department of Public Health would read a document and to have folks back it up, but in addition they should not be putting their mistruths and I'll just call it that right now in their document," Jackson said.

Stories like that are why House Speaker Robert Deleo has asked the head of the Committee on Public Health to investigate. Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez said that they're still trying to get a handle on the process, and how exactly these companies are vetted.

"We want to make sure that people are first of all being truthful about who they are, what they do and what they plan to do. And if they lied on their applications they shouldn't be given provisional or final licensure," Sanchez said.

The committee is looking at potential conflicts of interest. The law, which was approved by voters in 2012, allows for a maximum of 35 dispensaries in Massachusetts and requires all 14 of the state's counties to have at least one.

Dispensaries could begin opening as early as the summer.