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20 companies to undergo more scrutiny

Lawmaker Cart is before horse on medical marijuana

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Public Health Department said it will deeply scrutinize companies given provisional approval to run medical marijuana dispensaries.

The department notified companies approved for 20 provisional licenses that they will be subjected to extensive additional background checks on anyone “who will have any involvement” with the proposed dispensaries, including volunteers, consultants, advisory board members, staff members, and all corporate and individual investors.

Previously, the agency had said it would review only those who contributed 5 percent or more toward the operations, as well as the board of directors and members of the executive management team and corporation.

News of the background checks was contained in a letter dated March 14 and obtained by The Boston Globe.

“These follow-up background checks are only one part of the ongoing verification process,” the letters said. The agency refused additional comment.

The agency on Thursday sent similar letters to six companies that were not chosen for provisional licenses but were invited by the state to reapply in one of the counties that has not yet been earmarked for a dispensary.

Companies are being charged $550 per individual checked, according to the letters. That’s in addition to the $30,000 charged for the application fee.

The selection process has come under intense scrutiny and three rejected companies have filed lawsuits.

Most dispensaries were expected to be running by August, but it’s unclear if the additional background checks will delay any openings.

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