BOSTON (CBS) – As the state readies to open more pot shops, one Boston woman looking to open a medical marijuana dispensary has critics calling Massachusetts pot policies hazy at best.
“It raises doubt about the integrity of the process. This woman isn’t trying to open a flower shop someplace. It’s a marijuana shop she wants to open up,” says David Tuerck, who heads up the watchdog group, Beacon Hill Institute.
The applicant’s name: Nicolette Smith, of the Petrichor Medicinal Corporation. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirms she’s an employee there. Yes, the very same department in charge of granting licenses for dispensaries.
“That agency, DPH, should not be licensing their own employees to conduct activities for which the employees have to file applications,” says Tuerck.
According to a Department of Public Health spokesperson, “Filing an application of intent is the first step in a long process that does not guarantee approval…our legal and regulatory staff will follow our processes to ensure that all laws, ethical rules, and regulatory requirements are satisfied.”
A look at the application shows it could take a little digging to find a potential conflict, since it does not readily disclose that she’s a DPH employee.
The state legislature has formed a different independent agency that will handle licensing for dispensaries in the future, but while that’s still in the works, it’s up to the Department of Public Health to regulate. WBZ tried to get in touch with Smith in person, by phone, and email. She did not respond.