BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Eleven medical marijuana companies are now cleared to move forward to the inspection phase, the last step before final approval. That means just months from now, the first medical marijuana dispensaries are set to go up around the state.
On Friday, the Department of Public Health announced 11 dispensaries have survived the cut, down from 20 in January. The locations will be in Dennis, Salem, Haverhill, Northampton, Ayer, Newton, Lowell, Quincy, Brookline, Brockton, and Milford.
None of them will be in Boston, and none of the three applicants under the umbrella of Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, the company led by former Congressman Bill Delahunt, made the cut. MMM's rejection letter cites misleading claims by the company and incorrect representations of local support, including from Senate President Therese Murray.
Delahunt's explanation was that he should have read the application more carefully. It also pointed to questions about Delahunt's potential profit from the venture. Fox 25 Political Reporter Sharman Sacchetti reached out to Delahunt, but he hasn't called back.
So when will you actually see an approved dispensary go up?
"Some of them will be able to open up towards the end of this year, some of them as early as November, but others are scheduling to open up their doors in February of next year," said Karen Van Unen, executive director of the medical marijuana program at DPH.
In 2012, voters in the Commonwealth overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana as a ballot question. The process was stalled while the state worked to verify information in the applications.
When Sacchetti asked Van Unen about the controversy surrounding the process, and why people should have faith in her judgement, she responded, "Well, I think that the presentation you've seen this morning is exactly laying out the process that we've followed. And trying to add to the transparency of the work that we've been doing."
When asked how Van Unen would respond to those who believe the process is rigged, she replied, "I say it's fabulous. I'm just delighted to be at this point so we can move to the inspection phase."
The rejected applicants aren't counted out completely. They are allowed to re-apply in the next round in 2015. Critics say this is all moving way too slowly.
The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance says it's concerned the process is "driven by politics over patient need."
We reached out to Governor Deval Patrick for his response on all of this, and his staff never got back to us.