The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has finally chosen the first company that will be allowed to grow medical marijuana in the state.
Making medical marijuana was already in the works in 2012, but it wasn't until the last day of 2014 that Massachusetts awarded Alternative Therapies Group Inc. the right to open a cultivation site in Amesbury and a dispensary in Salem.
Unfortunately, actual sales of medical marijuana will have to wait because growing seeds will take at least three months, and ATG will be subjected to further assessments, including inspections of the company's transportation plans and the testing of plants.
Nichole Snow, deputy director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, calls the move "an exciting first step" as it means patients like her will be gaining safe access to much-needed medication. Snow was involved in several car accidents and needs medical marijuana to treat pain and muscle spasms caused by her injuries.
Aside from problems with the contractor, which the state hired to look into companies applying to open dispensaries in Massachusetts, the health department was also sidetracked in facing over two dozen lawsuits about the selection process. Now that everything has been ironed out, the state can move forward with offering medical marijuana in its jurisdiction.
"Providing safe patient access is a priority and we are proud to take this important step forward. Selecting dispensaries that meet our high standards takes time, but ensuring a launch of this new industry the right way for the people of Massachusetts is a top priority," said John Polanowicz, Health and Human Services secretary.
Kimberly Driscoll, Salem mayor, said that representatives of ATG met with people in the city to introduce the company and explain what it is they are doing. As Salem is home to a progressive, open-minded, forward-thinking community, the city is looking forward to seeing another medical option becoming available to patients in North Shore.
"I look forward to seeing ATG develop as a positive contributor to the Amesbury community," added Ken Gray, Amesbury mayor.
Marijuana contains cannabinoids, which is present in different levels in different strains. Two cannabinoids are of interest therapeutically: cannabidiol (CBD) and THC. A non-psychoactive, the cannabinoid CBD reduces inflammation and pain, controls epileptic seizures and has the potential to treat addictions and psychosis. THC, on the other hand, reduces nausea, stimulates appetite and reduces inflammation, pain and spasms.