Hanover Adapts to Medical Marijuana Dispensary After Voting Against Recreational Sales

Massachusetts' first recreational marijuana shops still up in the air, but Worcester will play a central role. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

By Ezgi Toper
Boston University Statehouse Program

This article was also published in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette

HANOVER — A medical marijuana dispensary has set up shop next to Friendly’s, the family fast-food chain, leaving some residents stunned after a majority of voters here said no to a ballot question last November allowing the sale of recreational marijuana.

Trevor Simmons, manager of Friendly’s on Washington Street, said the opening of the new dispensary by Curaleaf Massachusetts last month could go “both ways” for Friendly’s business, and for the Town of Hanover.

“It could be good, but it also could be bad,” said Simmons. “It’s good because (patients) are going to want food, they’re going to be hungry. But bad because parents don’t want the smell of it coming over here.”

In order to obtain a medical marijuana card in Massachusetts, a doctor must certify that cannabis will assist the patient with a condition that is terminal or severely debilitating or would help the patient at the physician’s discretion. After certification, a patient must register with the Department of Public Health through the Medical Use of Marijuana Program, to receive their card.

The possession limit is 10 ounces of marijuana but only 2½ ounces can be dispensed to a patient within 15 days. Patients are not allowed to smoke, ingest or otherwise use or consume marijuana products in any area owned or under the control of the town, or in any place accessible to the public, including a public building, street, sidewalk, park, school grounds, cemetery, or parking lot.

Joseph White moved from Newton with his wife in early February. The 50-year-old owner of Budget Car Rental said he had heard “rumblings” of a marijuana dispensary opening across from his store on Washington Street but thought it was all “a big joke.”

“It’s very startling to me,” said White. “I didn’t expect something like this from this area. I think it’s going to bring unwanted people into the neighborhood. The traffic that you don’t want around here quite frankly.”

A maximum of 35 nonprofit treatment centers are allowed in the state, and 17 dispensaries had opened as of Sept. 30. Each county is restricted to a maximum of five treatment centers. Currently Curaleaf Massachusetts is the second registered dispensary in Plymouth County.

The company planned to open in June between Boston and Cape Cod, off Exit 13 on Route 3. However, after the company changed its name from Mass Organic Therapy, CEO Patrik Jonsson said delays occurred and “everything happened last minute.”

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