Karen Van Unen, executive director of the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program.
Karen Van Unen, executive director of the state's Medical Use of Marijuana Program. (STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE)

BOSTON -- Eleven medical marijuana dispensary applicants, including those proposed in Ayer and Lowell, will move to the inspectional phase after completing a verification process that included background checks, according to state public health officials.

Officials some of the dispensaries believe they can open by November while others may open by next February.

At a press briefing in Boston, officials said 97 percent of residents in Massachusetts live within 30 miles of the applicants announced on Friday as advancing in the process, including facilities planned in Salem, Milford, Ayer, Haverhill, Newton, Lowell, Quincy, Brockton, Brookline, Northampton and Dennis.

The applicants moving on in the process have facilities planned in seven counties, while seven other counties, including Boston (Suffolk County), do not yet have any applicants moving to the inspection phase.

The program was established following approval by Massachusetts voters of an initiative petition in 2012 and not as the result of a law that was approved by the Legislature. "We want to make sure we implement the voters' will," said Karen Van Unen, executive director of the state's Medical Use of Marijuana Program.

"The applicants that are moving forward are really the applicants that we believe will be able to meet the needs of the patients in the community," van Unen said at the press briefing.


She said state officials were "super excited about being able to move forward to the next phase."

The applicants moving to the inspection phase are:

* Central Ave Compassionate Care Inc. in Ayer;

* Patriot Care Corp. in Lowell;

* William Noyes Webster Foundation Inc. in Dennis;

* Alternative Therapies Group Inc. in Salem;

* Healthy Pharms Inc. in Haverhill;

* New England Treatment Access Inc. in Northampton;

* Garden Remedies Inc. in Newton;

* Ermont Inc. in Quincy;

* New England Treatment Access Inc. in Brookline;

* In Good Health Inc. in Brockton;

* Bay State Relief Inc. dba Milford Medicinals Inc.

State officials identified five applicants eligible to apply for dispensaries in counties that don't have one (Suffolk, Bristol, Hampden, Berkshire, Franklin, Dukes and Nantucket). Van Unen said the open counties were "a concern." The application process in this group begins July 9 and selections are scheduled for October. The applicants are:

* Coastal Compassion Inc.;

* JCS Holdings Inc. dba as The Haven Center;

* Mass Medicum Corp.;

* Patriot Care Corp. (two applications).

Van Unen said Boston residents would be able to access dispensaries "not too far" from the city limits "and on the transportation line."

Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts Inc., whose CEO is former Congressman William Delahunt, was listed Friday with three applications for sites in Plymouth, Mashpee and Taunton, that are "not moving forward at location." Other applications similarly listed are:

* Brighton Health Advocates Inc. dba Compassionate Care (Fairhaven);

* Debilitating Medical Conditional Treatment Centers Inc. (Holyoke);

* Good Chemistry of Massachusetts (Worcester and Boston);

* Green Heart Holistic Health and Pharmaceuticals (Boston);

* The Greeneway Wellness Foundation (Cambridge).

Dispensary applicants must complete the municipal approval process, including zoning and permitting, to receive a final certificate of registration to open. State officials will conduct inspections on "grow-readiness, and processing and retail-readiness to ensure product safety and quality, security, storage and transportation and responsiveness to patient needs," according to DPH.