Four vie for medical marijuana license in Dukes County
Four local entities have begun the first part of a competitive multi-phase application process to become the first medical marijuana dispensary in Dukes County.
On Friday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) published a list of 181 contenders statewide that participated in the application process that began on August 2.
Applicants are competing for a maximum of 35 licenses allowed under a voter-approved ballot initiative that makes medical marijuana available to patients with conditions such as cancer, Parkinson's disease, and AIDS.
"We're glad that it was a highly competitive process, and it will ensure patients' access to the medical use of marijuana in the Commonwealth," DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett said in a statement Friday.
Phase one applicants had to clear a background check and prove financial viability, which includes $500,000 of start-up capital. In mid-September, the DPH will announce which applicants may move on to phase two.
In the first year, there must be one, but no more than five, dispensaries in each of Massachusetts's 14 counties. In phase two, the test will be the "appropriateness of the site, geographical distribution of dispensaries, local support, and the applicant's ability to meet the overall health needs of registered patients, while ensuring public safety."
While much information about the 181 applicants awaits the results of the continuing application process, among the four Island-based applicants are a well-known Oak Bluffs businessman, an established complementary medicine provider in West Tisbury, and the duo behind a community services based membership club. Despite several inquiries, relatively little is known about the fourth applicant. Filed by Michael Peters, the corporation is listed as MV Greencross Inc.
Earlier this year, 20-year-old Oak Bluffs resident Jordan Wallace formed the nonprofit Kingsbury Group Corporation. The group was legally organized prior to filing their application with the DPH for a state license under the name Mark Wallace, Jordan Wallace's father, in both Dukes and Barnstable counties.
"Given that Martha's Vineyard is a seasonal economy and because we have applied for dispensaries in Provincetown, Dennis, and Martha's Vineyard, we believe a central location, mid-Cape, will best serve our dispensaries and make our application more palatable to state and local officials, by serving three dispensaries from one growing facility," Michael Mahoney, the attorney representing the Wallace family, wrote in an email to The Times.
Jordan Wallace has been a longtime advocate of medical marijuana use on the Island. In the months leading up to the application process, Mr. Wallace said he had been working to engage community leaders and organizations, including those who are opposed to medical marijuana.
"I became interested when I saw the support of the law by the people of Massachusetts, and specifically by my fellow Islanders," Mr. Wallace wrote in an email to the Times earlier this month. "I recognized, along with the people of Massachusetts and of 19 other states, a need currently unmet."
Mr. Wallace said he hopes the application process will lead to an on-Island dispensary in the near future. "We are excited about the process and we look forward to phase two with cautious optimism," Mr. Mahoney wrote on his behalf.
Greenleaf MV Compassion Care
Licensed physical therapist and acupuncturist Susan Sanford filed for a medical marijuana license under the name Greenleaf MV Compassion Care. President and chief executive of Vineyard Complementary Medicine on State Road in West Tisbury, Ms. Sanford is also a Duke's County Health Council (DCHC) board member.
"My intention for creating Greenleaf MV Compassionate Care is to provide patients who suffer from chronic pain or debilitating conditions with another option to reduce pain and improve their quality of life," Ms. Sanford wrote in an email to The Times.
At a DCHC meeting in March, Ms. Sanford presented a slideshow to fellow board members titled "Medical Marijuana on Martha's Vineyard," in which she posed questions to DCHC members about how medical marijuana plays a role in Island life.
"For over 20 years I have been in the business of pain management, health and wellness, and have recently focused on Lyme pain management," Ms Sanford wrote. "As a licensed physical therapist and licensed acupuncturist, my first priority is helping my patients find the best treatment option (or combination of treatments) to help them meet their goals. Medical marijuana is another option to help our patients who struggle with illness or disability."
Patient Centric of Martha's Vineyard Ltd.
Oak Bluffs resident Geoffrey Rose, along with business partner Jonathan Bernstein, applied under the name Patient Centric of Martha's Vineyard Ltd. "The DPH has done their homework, and we're very pleased with the way they've approached it," Mr. Rose told The Times in a phone conversation. "With the timing that they've been able to maintain [in] this whole process, we feel it's been very positive."
Founders of Our Island Club — a community based service that offers savings to year-round Island residents for products and services, such as groceries, home heating fuel, and gasoline — Mr. Rose and Mr. Bernstein say they are confident that their community-based effort will lend itself to opening a dispensary in Duke's County.
The mission of Patient Centric of Martha's Vineyard, Mr. Rose explained, is to provide patients with the highest quality medical cannabis and related services in a safe and dignified setting.
"Our goal is to serve as a model facility," Mr. Rose said. "Operating in full compliance with the law and maintaining the highest standards of professionalism, we hope to serve patients with respect, compassion and care."
As the application process continues, Island physicians are playing catch up. David Caron, director of the pharmacy at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital and chairman of the DCHC, said that medical marijuana awareness and education is at the top of his list of priorities.
DCHC, a coalition of 37 community members, public officials, health practitioners, and health organizations, promotes community-wide health and wellness. Mr. Caron says creating awareness about medical marijuana use is at the top of his list as DCHC chairman.
"It's my vision that I think we should be brave enough as a council to come up with a mission statement," Mr. Caron said in a phone conversation with The Times. "We need to become better educated and can't just let this happen blindly."
Starting on September 18, at 7:30 am, Mr. Caron said he has scheduled the first of what he hopes will be many in a speaker series on the topic of medical marijuana. The first meeting, set to take place at the West Tisbury Fire Station, will feature former White House drug policy expert Kevin Sabet, Mr. Caron said.
"We want to find out first and foremost how it is used in other states like Oregon and California," Mr. Caron said. "There's a wealth of information both good and bad in regards to the outcome of medical marijuana use, and we want to find out what worked well and what didn't work well in those places."