SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 14, 2014

Medical marijuana dispensary applications escaped scrutiny

The state Department of Public Health did not verify information about local community support detailed on the medical marijuana dispensary applications it reviewed, conversations with a dozen officials indicate.

Officials in Haverhill, Lawrence, Beverly and Salem said no one from the DPH, which was charged with reviewing the 100 dispensary applications and issuing provisional licenses, contacted them after applications were submitted in November to review or verify information applicants listed.

The Eagle-Tribune, a sister newspaper of The Salem News, reported on Sunday that several officials in Haverhill are questioning how their interactions with Healthy Pharms Inc., which won a provisional license for a Haverhill dispensary on Jan. 31, were characterized in the nonprofit’s application. Additionally, a Haverhill city councilor said last week that he did not realize a letter he signed would be used to score points for Healthy Pharms in the application process.

Meanwhile, state House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, has called for a joint legislative committee to investigate questions surrounding the Healthy Pharms application and at least two dispensary applications in Boston.

Additionally, the Department of Public Health said yesterday it is requiring a signed statement from those with provisional licenses attesting to the accuracy of information included in their applications.

Officials from around Essex County interviewed this week, who ranged from town and city officials to state legislators, said they were not contacted by DPH, or IFC International, the Virginia consulting firm that scored the applications, about their names or characterizations of their conversations that appeared in dispensary applications.

“I never received any call or other correspondence from anyone from or affiliated with DPH,” said William Pillsbury, director of economic development in Haverhill. “You were the first and only one to inform me of the misrepresentations contained in the application.”

Pillsbury said last week that a conversation that appeared in Healthy Pharms’ application misconstrued a passing conversation he had had with James Jajuga, a former state senator and current Methuen city councilor who was a consultant at the time for Healthy Pharms.

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