SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — Phase one is done when it comes to deciding who will be allowed to distribute medical marijuana and where. The state said 22 applicants did not fit the criteria to serve as registered medical marijuana dispensaries. There were 26 western Massachusetts dispensary applicants. Only two were ruled out so far by the state. It’s encouraging news for local residents who have learned about medical marijuana through the most tragic of circumstances.
“No one thinks that they are going to get cancer,” Silas River Bennett said just days after he was diagnosed with stage four bone cancer in October 2007. “It happens but it doesn’t happen to me.”
“Sy’s” conditions and symptoms rapidly worsened.
“It was just so horrific and the side effects were terrible,” his mother Lorraine Kerz said. “He couldn’t keep anything down, he was wasting away, he was losing weight very rapidly, and he was in a lot of pain.”
Kerz was desperate to help and suggested medical marijuana. She had never given it any though, but researched it as a last ditch attempt to stop her son’s misery. Kerz says though her son died seven months after being diagnosed at the age of 29, the drug limited his pain and maintained his contagious personality so he could enjoy his final days. In his memory, she advocated for the medical marijuana ballot question and is now glad phase one of the dispensary application process is in the books.
“I know that people are looking at this very carefully and looking at what other states have done and what’s worked best,” Kerz said.
Statewide 181 applicants submitted paperwork for phase one. 22 were rejected. One dropped out. Only Fotia’s, Inc. of Franklin County and Baystate Alternative Health Care of Hampshire County were denied locally. In a statement, Department of Public Health spokeswoman said “Applications were denied for a wide variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, failing to incorporate as a non-profit or a lack of demonstrated financial viability.”
During phase two, applicants will be required to show that they have local support in their community, including being able to comply with local laws and town ordinances. Beyond public support, applicants in phase two will be judged on geographic location, needs of registered patients, public safety, and appropriateness.
State law allows for up to 35 dispensaries statewide. Each county must have at least one but no more than five locations. Kerz says the process is transparent and one that so many families need immediately.
“Watching your child suffer like that and having to watch them take their last breath and knowing that there is something out there that can just ease that a little bit and give them a better quality of life I think it’s just, it’s just such a good thing,” Kerz said.
For a complete list of applicants in all counties, head to :