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.