Medical marijuana center, headed by lobbyist & former state trooper, could open in early 2015

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Medical marijanaDelaware is moving toward the use of medical marijuana with the state’s Department of Health and Social Services authorizing the first center in an industrial park near Wilmington.

The center will be headed by a lobbyist, retired state trooper  and former county director for U.S. Sen,. Tom Carper.

Click here for background information on medical marijuana in Delaware.

The center will have a monopoly on medical marijuana sales for a time  as it will be part of a year-long test to determine if other sites should open. The center could be open in early 2015.

Dr. Karyl T. Rattay, director of the state division of Public Health, disclosed the news in a letter to a legislator and praised the successful candidate’s organization.

WHYY Newsworks reported a two-year agreement was made with First State Compassion Center, whose president is Mark Lally, a former state trooper, who also served as Carper’s Sussex County director.

The Associated Press reports Lally is being sued by a former Lewes City Councilman over allegations that he and a partner were working with Lally to open a compassion center, only to see the former Carper aide take on the project himself in northern Delaware.

Lally has headed M.S. Lally & Associates, “a governmental affairs and strategy consulting firm specializing in government relations in the State of Delaware, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“The firm enables corporations, non-profit organizations, and industry associations to successfully participate in the legislative and regulatory processes affecting their operations at the federal, state, and local government levels,” the profile stated.

Lalley did not  respond to an Email request for comment.

The selection is likely to raise concerns over what seem as an “insiders culture” that moves contrats in the direction of the well connected. Rattay defended the selection in the letter.

“FSCC has assembled an experienced team with a high level of competency in the field of medical marijuana. One of FSCC’s principals was deeply involved in the operation of the nonprofit Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Rhode Island, whose medical marijuana laws bear striking similarity to the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act,” she wrote.

She noted  that Rhode Island, like Delaware, “allows compassion centers to cultivate no more than 150 plants and to keep no more than 1,500 ounces of medical marijuana on site at any time, and limits access to registered qualified patients and their registered caregivers. The Slater Center has operated successfully and served over 3,000 licensed patients in Rhode Island.”

First State will operate in the Germay Industrial Park, at 37 Germay Drive, Wilmington.

Growing will get under way in the fall and roughly 16 weeks later the mature plants will be ready for the drying and trimming processes leading to product safety and purity testing, Rattay wrote.

Under the current timeline, the center should be open for product sales in early 2015, Rattay wrote, The center’s contract will run for 24 months and will be evaluated for renewal based on performance factors delineated in the contract.

Rattay went on to outline security measures for the center. The DHSS and the state has been rocked by a scandal over drugs missing or other wise unaccounted for at the state laboratory in Wilmington.

Legislation moved the program to the Delaware Department of Homeland Security, with numerous safeguards. At the same time, there has been concern about the lab being under the control of the same department as the State Police.

The law has been on the books for a few years. However, the Markell Administration did not move forward, due to federal opposition. The federal  stance after two states approved legalizing marijuana.

There has been no move in in Legislative Hall legalize or take away criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. However, financial pressures facing the state could change the equation in coming years. Colorado and Washington have profited from heavy taxation on legalized marijuana.

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