Holyoke Medical Marijuana Facility Denied

Massachusetts health officials Friday announced 11 of 20 proposed medical marijuana dispensaries will advance to the final step before opening. Among those proposals thrown out by regulators is one for a facility in Holyoke.

Former state senator Brian Lees’ bid to run a medical marijuana dispensary was denied by regulators largely because of the involvement of Heriberto Flores, chief of several Springfield-area non-profits. Flores was the target of a state audit earlier this year. He was accused of having a salary of more than $900-thousand which exceeds state limits, not documenting hours he allegedly worked and misusing state funds. In a letter from the state explaining the rejection, Flores is quoted from a previous interview. He called the audit a witch hunt and said quote “I push the envelope.” Flores is listed as the president and only full-time employee of the proposed Holyoke dispensary. Regulators also questioned if it would operate as a non-profit because of the audit’s findings.

In a statement, the attorney for the Holyoke dispensary calls the decision “unfair and improper”, and disputes the audit’s findings. The attorney says legal options are being considered by the dispensary and Flores.