Editorial: Review the pot process

Given the complex process the state has created to license medical marijuana dispensaries, one could well understand if applicants felt like there were more than enough hoops to jump through.

But who would have thought that those hoops would belong to the three-ring circus that’s developed involving a number of applications.

Since the Department of Public Health announced approval for 20 applicants to get past the first round, a number of issues have surfaced with the applications, from misrepresenting the amount of local support to failing to fulfill particular requirements or to how some companies were structured.

That’s caused enough of an issue with one failed applicant that it’s seeking a court injunction to prevent the issuance of ANY licenses.

“We went through every single winning application, and there were problems with every one of them,” charged attorney Robert Carp in published reports. He represents 1 Relief Inc., an applicant whose bid to build a dispensary in Framingham was turned down by the state.

This suit might be just one of sour grapes, but it and other, similar complaints have put the state on the defensive.

Gov. Deval Patrick dismissed the lawsuit, saying “I’m not surprised by lawsuits because there’s a lot of money involved ... and there are going to be people who are disappointed who decide they’re going to express their disappointment in the courts.”

But both he and David Kibbe, a spokesman for the Department of Public Health, have been quick to point out that so far, nobody has been given a license to dispense medical marijuana.

“We are in the middle of an intensive verification process with the 20 applicants who have moved into this next phase, and we have been clear that anyone found to have lied or misrepresented information in their application will not get a license,” Kibbe said.

That may be true. But we think that, given the up-front scrutiny that the applicants went through, issues with an application should have been caught to begin with. And there has been acknowledgment on the part of some state officials that some of the claims made by applicants weren’t checked out enough.

That’s enough of a reason for House Speaker Robert DeLeo to argue that a thorough review of the process is in order.

We agree. And, as part of that review, any tainted application should be tossed. If it is determined that misinformation was deliberate in any way, then the applicant(s) should be barred from ever running a state dispensary.

The state has promised that the medical marijuana process — from the application to the actual operation — would be transparent and forthright. At this point, there seems more than enough smoke here to worry about a fire.

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