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February 11, 2014

How Alternative Therapies Group courted officials

Salem: Letters could be key to medical marijuana outfit's success

Application materials recently released by the state show how Alternative Therapies Group approached officials about locating a medical marijuana dispensary in the city — and how its success in doing so might have set it apart from the competition.

Alternative Therapies was recently licensed by the state to sell medical marijuana out of 50 Grove St. and hopes to be open by Aug. 1. The nonprofit was licensed after a rigorous, two-phase application process overseen by the Department of Public Health.

The nonprofit began courting city officials last May, when its representatives met with Dominick Pangallo, the mayor’s chief aide; Lynn Duncan, the city’s planning director; and Beth Renard, its solicitor.

“Our intention in this meeting, along with subsequent ones, was to seek to understand the city leaders’ community impact concerns and provide information about well-regulated medical marijuana programs in other states and jurisdictions,” Alternative Therapies wrote in its application.

Next, on July 10, the nonprofit met with Salem state Rep. John Keenan, who indicated “he is comfortable with our group and our approach,” and was not opposed to the dispensary being in Salem. The same day, the group presented its plans to Mayor Kim Driscoll for the first time, and to police Chief Paul Tucker, Board of Health Agent Larry Ramdin and others.

In the following months, Alternative Therapies approached state Sen. Joan Lovely, city councilors and other officials about locating its dispensary at a Technology Way address and hosted an informational meeting for neighbors to the property on Sept. 12. It’s unclear at what point the Technology Way plan was abandoned or why.

In October, the group appeared before a City Council subcommittee as it considered a temporary moratorium on dispensaries. The moratorium failed by unanimous vote. Later in the month, the group met with Councilor Paul Prevey to “review messages he had received from constituents and successfully allayed his concerns.”

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