Cambridge Medical Marijuana Dispensary Application Misrepresented Local Support

Last Friday afternoon I sent a letter to the Department of Public Health in regards to an application to open a medical marijuana dispensary in East Cambridge. The Greeneway Wellness Foundation, which was granted a provisional certificate by the Department on February 1st, intends to open a medical marijuana dispensary at 11 First Street (also known as One First) in the space where Finagle a Bagel currently operates.  Upon reviewing their application, I was disappointed to find it contained many inaccuracies, and I felt the need to set the record straight.  It’s important that people have access to the medication that they need, and incidents like this will only serve to delay that access.  -Tim Toomey

UPDATE: I was informed by The Greeneway in a letter received on Wednesday, Feb. 12, that they are now exploring alternative locations. However, this does not guarantee that this applicant will not continue to pursue One First as a dispensary location. I will be continuing to work with residents, City officials, and Mass DPH to ensure that any dispensary opened in Cambridge is sited in an appropriate, safe location.

UPDATE 2: I received a call Thursday afternoon (2/13) from the attorney representing the Greeneway. They are “no longer interested” in pursuing One First as a location and will be looking at alternative locations in Cambridge that fall within the zoning established for dispensaries. I will continue to monitor this situation until it is officially resolved. -Tim

Dear Commissioner Bartlett,

It is my understanding that the Department of Public Health recently approved The Greeneway Wellness Foundation, Inc. for a provisional license, a step within the medical marijuana licensing framework which allows The Greeneway to pursue local approval to operate a medical marijuana dispensary within the City of Cambridge.  It is also my understanding that the suitability and local support claimed by The Greeneway for their proposed location (11 First Street, Cambridge, also known as One First Street) were heavily weighed by DPH during the approval process.

While I cannot speak for any of the other local officials listed by this applicant in their application as being “in support” of the proposed location, I can unequivocally state that my support for siting a medical marijuana dispensary at One First Street, a residential condominium building, was never given, neither verbally nor in writing.  During the initial phases of the medical marijuana application process, I met with John Greene twice, at which time I acknowledged the general support that the voters of Massachusetts voiced for medical marijuana, and pointed out that Cambridge was in the process of developing guidelines for zoning and permitting medical marijuana dispensaries.  More importantly, I specifically informed Mr. Greene that it was critical for him to do his own due diligence by meeting with residents of One First and the surrounding neighborhood, and that it was important for him to gain the support of local community organizations like the East Cambridge Planning Team before I would ever consider supporting his application.  I provided him with a number of contacts for Cambridge organizations, and to the best of my knowledge he did not use them before his application was submitted.

These inaccuracies are particularly troubling because one of the assurances that DPH made to the public regarding the Commonwealth’s medical marijuana program was that local support would be heavily weighted throughout the licensing process.  Of the nine members of the Cambridge City Council, eight members of the Cambridge State Legislative Delegation, dozens of Cambridge neighborhood organizations, and hundreds of residents of One First Street, Mr. Greene supplied one letter of local support (application exhibit 5.4, letter from Councillor Cheung) for his proposed dispensary. I would like to know if this one letter was all that was needed in order for this applicant to earn the application evaluation points needed to designate “local support.”

Furthermore, the City of Cambridge adopted its zoning and permitting ordinances for medical marijuana dispensaries this fall, well before any final decision was made regarding Mr. Greene’s application. One First Street is outside the two districts that were zoned for medical marijuana dispensaries, and to my knowledge, would not comply with the permitting adopted by the City. I would like to know whether these facts were ever considered, or even known by DPH when the decision was made to approve this application.

The voters of Cambridge, both as a whole and within my legislative district, have been strongly supportive of allowing medical marijuana in the Commonwealth.  While other cities and towns tried (unsuccessfully) to ban medical marijuana altogether, Cambridge thoughtfully and efficiently updated our zoning and permitting laws to ensure that patients could gain access to their medicine as soon as it was feasible. It is for that reason in particular that I am disappointed that this applicant did not return the courtesy of doing the public outreach that was not only suggested by myself, but was also required as part of the application process.

I support a medical marijuana program in Massachusetts, and I want this medicine to be available in a safe, secure location for my constituents who need it. However, by failing to verify the support and legality of location claimed by this applicant, DPH has created a situation that will almost certainly result in the delayed siting of a dispensary in Cambridge. At the end of the day, it will unfortunately be patients who suffer the most because of it.

Please accept this letter as a matter of record that my “support” for this application has been grossly exaggerated, and that the statements it contains regarding my support are misrepresentations of the truth.

Sincerely,

Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.

26th Middlesex District

 

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