Medical Marijuana Sales Begin in Delaware and Massachusetts
After years of waiting, patients are now able to purchase medical cannabis in both MMJ states.
The First State Compassion Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in Wilmington, Delaware, opened on June 26. Patients have waited four years for access. Right now, it’s the only facility
planned for the state.
However, there is no provision for home cultivation under Delaware law.
But local television outlet 47 ABC reported continued frustration among seriously ill residents because of limited selection and high prices.
47 ABC learned the prices are $55 for an eighth of an ounce of marijuana or $17 for a gram. Some customers found those prices a little too high.
“These aren’t people that’s have a ton of money, they’re on assistance and it’s just absolutely – they’re not going to able to afford the medicine that they need,” said medicinal marijuana activist Darryl Lewis.
At about $440 per ounce, Delaware is now competing with neighbor New Jersey for the most expensive medical marijuana in the country.
In Massachusetts the wait was slightly shorter. It took three years for those doors to open. Alternative Therapies Group in Salem began serving patients on June 24 by appointment only.
Prices were not immediately clear, but a few Facebook posts suggest it’s more than $350 per ounce. Again, no home cultivation is allowed.
Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative for medical marijuana in 2012. State agencies were then responsible for implementation. Advocates and patients have kept steady pressure to provide access.
In both states the Governors – Democrats Jack Markell in Delaware and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts – were initially skeptical of the programs. Markell halted implementation for some time, citing possible federal interference.
The regulatory process for laws that allow a very limited number of producers is now well proven to be a years-long process. Multiple government entities like the Departments of Health, State Police and others must craft voluminous sets of rules. The application and selection process for producers and retailers is expensive, competitive and often requires political influence to win.
New Jersey took three years to bring a dispensary online after its law was passed in 2010. Just six dispensaries were licensed, but thus far only three have served patients. Two operators are currently serving the entire patient population in the Garden State.
Delaware decriminalized marijuana possession through a legislative vote in June.
Massachusetts voters decriminalized marijuana in 2008. A serious effort is now underway to fully legalize marijuana for adults in 2016 through a ballot initiative.
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