State of Massachusetts Faces Lawsuit As Medical Marijuana Business Suffers $1.2M Loss
A cannabis dispensary is suing state regulators after the state failed to respond to its demand for more than eight months. In an injunction filed on 14 September in Suffolk Superior Court, Northeast Alternatives asks the court to force the Cannabis Control Commission to comply with the pharmacy's application for a license to grow plants and a place where it continues to pay $200,000 a month in rent. A spokeswoman for the Cannabis Control Commission said in a statement that it would not comment on a pending court case. The agency "continues to perform all possible due diligence to ensure that all marijuana operations remain licensable and that we have all enforcement tools at our disposal if a licensee is found to be in violation of Massachusetts law or regulation," the spokeswoman said.
Now Northeast Alternatives has opened a grower's and manufacturing pharmacy in Fall River and said in its complaint that it has filed an application with the state for a second facility in Lakeville in June 2019.
The pharmacy stated in its complaint that it had received five follow-up applications since the Commission requested further information and was informed on 16 January that the application was complete. The City of Lakeville filed a state certification on February 20 to allow the pharmacy to sign a contract with the community required to operate in the city. It is the only medical marijuana dispensary in Massachusetts with a license from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Under the state's statute, the commission must submit or reject an application within 90 days, but the pharmacy says it even contacted the commission in late March to get an update. She asked for more time to review the license and was told that her license would be reviewed if this happened, and threatened legal action if it did not. The pharmacy said it had contacted the Commission since the end of March without being informed of the latest developments.
The Commission has sent several further requests to the pharmacy since July but has not yet responded, according to a communication from the Commission's office.
In the days since the commission became law, the NEA has incurred additional costs related to the application, including the purchase of land earmarked for the proposed marijuana plant in Lakeville and the construction of a new building on the site, according to a statement from the commission. Specifically, the NE has paid more than $1.2 million in rent for its Lakeville property since its application was completed and about $500,000 in additional rent.
The pharmacy added that the Commission had extended its three other licenses in September without any problems. In the past, the Commission has been criticized by applicants for its slow pace of examining applications and its lack of transparency.