MA: Wareham Medical Marijuana Dispensary Closer To Reality


Developers of a marijuana dispensary in Wareham continue to make slow, but steady, progress toward opening the facility, almost four years after voters legalized the substance for medical purposes.

“We’ve been working on this for three years,” said Compassionate Care Clinics CEO Michelle Stormo. “It’s been a long time coming.”

The company had planned to open the dispensary at 112 Main St. near Tobey Hospital this October. However, the state’s complex and lengthy application process caused a delay.

As of last month, there were seven marijuana dispensaries open across the state. The closest one to Wareham is located in Brockton.

In Massachusetts, medical marijuana may be prescribed for diseases such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other serious illnesses. Stormo said medical marijuana should be considered another line of treatment for alleviating pain associated with those conditions.

“Hopefully we’ll help prevent the huge opioid problem we’re having in Massachusetts,” Stormo said. “We’re aiming to give patients struggling with these symptoms a safe alternative to pain relievers that unfortunately can be detrimental to people’s health.”

In June, Compassionate Care received a provisional certificate of registration from the Department of Public Health to operate the Wareham dispensary. There are two hurdles left for the company – it must earn a final certificate of registration and then approval to sell.

Stormo said she estimates the facility will open in the next six to nine months, but “it’s still too soon to say for sure.”

With the provisional certificate, Stormo said the site is now undergoing an architectural review process during which the building’s design will be examined.

Stormo said the facility will have good security and follow strict rules the Department of Health has outlined for marijuana dispensaries.

“Not just anybody will be able to enter the building,” she said. “There will be high levels of security.”

Only staff and patients with state-issued registration cards will be allowed inside, and those patients must be vetted by their doctors.

The state requires a dispensary to grow its own marijuana rather than purchasing it from a third-party grower. Ideally, the cannabis would be grown in a company-owned facility adjacent to a dispensary,according to recommended state guidelines. Marijuana sold in Wareham will be grown at a Compassionate Care facility in Holliston that received state approval.

If it receives state approval, the dispensary would stock a variety of methods for using medical marijuana, including balms, salves and edibles and tinctures. Stormo also noted that some forms of medical marijuana available at the site won’t have a psychoactive component at all.

“A lot of people find relief with medical cannabis,” she said.

According to revenue projections the company submitted to the state, it appears the dispensary will be lucrative.

The dispensary is projected to take in $3.6 million in profit during the first fiscal year of operation. Then it’s expected to earn $5.1 million and $6.1 million during the second and third fiscal years.

Last year, Selectmen authorized a memorandum of understanding between the town and Compassionate Care. Part of the deal includes having Compassionate Care pay the town $100,000 during its first year of operation, then $125,000 for the second year and $150,000 for the third year.

Compassionate Care originally sought to open in Fairhaven, but the state pulled its support pulled last year, saying the nonprofit’s corporate structure appeared to violate state regulations. While the state eventually found nothing wrong with the company’s structure, Compassionate Care had already turned its focus toward Wareham. According to state records, the Wareham dispendary is Compassionate Care’s only project at this time.

Board of Health members have expressed concern regarding the project.

Earlier this year, Board of Health members met with executives from Compassionate Care and raised issues regarding security, a lack of doctors who are educated about medical marijuana and the health issues smoking marijuana poses.

Wareham Health Agent Robert Ethier said that ultimately, despite those concerns, final approval lies with state officials.

“It’s up to the State Department of Health right now, it’s their decision,” said Ethier.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Wareham Medical Marijuana Dispensary Closer To Reality
Author: Matthew Bernat
Contact: 508-322-7157
Photo Credit: Carolyn Bick
Website: Wareham Week