SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 11, 2014

How Alternative Therapies Group courted officials

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

(Continued)

When it came time for the final phase of the state’s application process, Alternative Therapies Group and Good Chemistry of Massachusetts — the other group that vied to open a dispensary in Salem, but failed — submitted letters of non-opposition. Those letters — and the relationship with city officials they reflected — were used by the state to gauge local support.

Although it isn’t exactly clear how Alternative Therapies ended up outscoring Good Chemistry on its overall application, differences in those letters seem to favor Alternative Therapies. Alternative Therapies scored 149 out of 163; Good Chemistry scored 145.

For starters, Alternative Therapies managed to obtain a letter of non-opposition from the City Council; Good Chemistry did not.

Also, while both of the nonprofits obtained similar letters from Ramdin on behalf of the Board of Health, and from Mayor Kim Driscoll’s office, the letter from Driscoll for Alternative Therapies was more enthusiastic and twice as long.

“The only reason I am not writing with explicit support for ATG’s application is because the city of Salem has an established process for evaluating medical clinics and dispensaries, spelled out in our ordinances: Applications must receive a special permit from our Zoning Board of Appeals,” wrote Driscoll. “Until our ZBA issues such a permit, following a public hearing, I am only comfortable expressing non-opposition for ATG’s application.”

To be sure, Driscoll also praised Good Chemistry in its letter, saying it had been “transparent and approachable.” But she reserved special praise for Alternative Therapies.

“ATG has been impressive, both in terms of their professionalism and their concern for being a good neighbor and a contributing member of Salem’s diverse business community,” Driscoll wrote. “They have been proactive, transparent and approachable.”

Driscoll’s letter also touched on a key difference between the two groups: Alternative Therapies offered to donate $50,000 a year to the city.

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