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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Companies eyeing Boston for marijuana dispensary

One of the four companies invited to apply for a medical marijuana dispensary license in counties without an approved facility wants to open in Boston, its executives said Wednesday, and others are considering bidding to locate in the city.

The competition is on for the right to open Boston’s first dispensary after state regulators laid out the ground rules for the four companies in a Wednesday meeting.

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The Department of Public Health selected the firms last month. But the agency also eliminated nearly half of the 20 applicants given initial approval earlier this year for a license because of questionable corporate structures and misrepresentations on applications.

The four companies vying in this new round received lower scores than other firms approved for a license in their selected counties but were deemed qualified to try again.

This new round of competition involves seven counties without a planned dispensary: Berkshire, Bristol, Dukes, Franklin, Hampden, Nantucket, and Suffolk.

While most company leaders at the briefing by the Health Department were guarded about plans for bidding on Boston, James Kurnick, chief executive of MassMedicum Corp., said his company’s goal is opening in the city.

“Most of the people in our group are Boston-based,” Kurnick said in an interview after the briefing. “We’re local.”

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Two companies that had been initially approved for provisional licenses in Boston — Good Chemistry of Massachusetts and Green Heart Holistic Health and Pharmaceuticals — were knocked out last month amid questions about misrepresentations on their applications regarding local support for their facilities, particularly from Boston city councilors.

“There is still some ill will among Boston leadership about this,” Kurnick said. “We would like to start with a clean slate.

“Unlike others from California or Colorado,” Kurnick added, referring to the chief executives of the rejected companies, “we really are local.”

Each of the four companies — MassMedicum Corp., Coastal Compassion, JCS Holdings Inc., and Patriot Care Corp. — will keep the score assigned it in the first round and submit additional information for the new application.

Patriot Care, which was awarded a provisional license last month for a Lowell dispensary, was the only company also tapped by regulators to bid on two more licenses in this new round.

Robert Mayerson, Patriot’s chief executive, declined to say whether the company would bid for Boston. “It’s too early to say, but we will keep an open mind,” he said.

Mayerson said the company feels strongly about Franklin County, in Western Massachusetts, and will probably focus at least one of its bids there.

Each applicant is allowed to submit two proposed locations, with Patriot allowed four proposed sites because it has been approved for two applications.

Coastal Compassion’s executive director, Tim Keogh, said his company would probably bid for a Bristol County location because his team members are from Southeastern Massachusetts and are familiar with that region. But he said they might seek a Suffolk County site as their second proposal.

Christopher Taloumis, JCS Holdings executive director, said his company is also considering Boston for a dispensary site but is committed to building its cultivation and processing center in Dennis because all his board members and investors are from Cape Cod.

Karen van Unen, director of the state’s medical marijuana program, said applicants must submit their proposals by Aug. 29, and her agency will decide in October where the companies will be allowed to operate.

No timeline has been announced for when these dispensaries would open. Most of the applicants selected last month are not expected to open until next year.

Kay Lazar can be reached at Kay.Lazar@globe.com.
Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.

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