181 vie for license to dispense medical marijuana in Massachusetts

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State health officials have released a list of 181 applications they received from groups hoping to open medical marijuana dispensaries.

The applicants will be competing for a maximum of 35 licenses allowed under a voter-approved law that makes marijuana available to patients with certain medical conditions.

The list released on Friday by the Department of Public Health includes the preferred county in which the applicant hopes to operate. Middlesex had the most applicants with 47, followed by 21 in Suffolk County, 19 in Plymouth County and 14 in Worcester County.

Applicants are not required to name a specific city or town in the first phase of a two-part application process.

Some groups submitted multiple applications in one or more counties.

Massachusetts hopes to begin awarding licenses by the end of the year.