Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts
As of June 2015, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health began accepting applications from nonprofits who would like to operate a Registered Medical Dispensary (RMD). If the application is accepted, the nonprofit would receive a Certificate of Registration in order to operate in the state.
To apply to be a RMD, a nonprofit can submit an application year-round, since applications are reviewed in the order they are received. The review process will determine if the nonprofit complies with Chapter 369 of the Acts of 2012, An Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana and DPH regulations. Applications are required to provide a letter of support or non-opposition from the municipality where the applicants will locate their RMD.
If the Department seeks clarifications or updates to the submitted application or accompanying materials, it will contact the applicant. An example of an update is when a person associated with a proposed RMD is seen as “unsuitable” by the Department. In this case, the RMD can choose to remove this person from the application and submit another person for the proposed role. This change can occur during the application process.
Technical support is available to applicants through the Department. Any issue that may arise during the application process must be resolved before the RMD receives a Provisional Certificate of Registration and commences the Inspection Phase. One major part of the application is the background check.
Persons who apply to run a RMD must comply with background checks. They are imperative to the process because they determine the suitability of the persons/employees and the companies. An outside vendor conducts the checks during the application process. The vendor must comply with “Guidance for Registered Marijuana Dispensaries Regarding Background Checks.”
The Department of Public Health (DPH) must complete and review background checks on the following people involved in a RMD: Board of Directors, Capital Contributor, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, those who cultivate operations of the RMD, and those who are responsible for a security plan and operations of the RMD. Also, any individuals or entities that will be employed on a consulting or contract basis must also submit a background check. Volunteers are subject to checks, as well as Independent Laboratory Dispensary Agents.
The RMD will be financially responsible for all background checks.
The DPH will select the Background Investigator. The Background Investigator is required to be an investigative firm that holds the National Association of Professional Background Screeners Background Screening Credentialing Council accreditation. The firm must perform the following: 1) a criminal history search that includes county, state, federal and international records for the past seven years for instances of conviction, guilty plea, nolo contendere, admission to sufficient facts and pending charges 2) professional license verification 3) marijuana professional license verification and industry compliance check 4) restricted parties search 5) civil history search 6) seven-year sex offender search 7) National Practitioner Data Bank 8) Fraud and Abuse Control Information Systems 9) media/social media search.
During the background check, if the Background Investigator finds any of the following offenses, the person will be disqualified: felonies, narcotic crimes and firearm crimes. If an offense comes to light during the background check, but is not disqualifying, it is up to the RMD or DPH to decide if the person who committed the offense is unsuitable to work or be associated with the RMD. For example, factors taken into consideration in this judgement include: the age of the person when s/he committed the offense, the circumstances surrounding the offense and how many other offenses or incidents the person has.
If all individuals listed on the application pass the background checks and the application is accepted, the applicant will then receive a Provisional Certificate of Registration and proceed to the Inspection Phase.
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