, Salem, MA

Local News

February 14, 2014

Medical marijuana dispensary applications escaped scrutiny


Seven companies applied to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Essex County. Two were proposed each in Salem and in Beverly, and one each in Haverhill, Ipswich and Lawrence. Healthy Pharms in Haverhill and Alternative Therapies Group Inc. in Salem were the only two groups issued licenses in Essex County.

Alternative Therapies Group included a list of multiple Salem officials, including the mayor, city and public safety officials and state legislators in a section characterizing the local community support it had gathered prior to submitting its application in November.

“We weren’t contacted by DPH,” said Grace Harrington, an aide for state Rep. John D. Keenan, D-Salem.

While all the Salem-area officials interviewed said they were not contacted by DPH, they stressed unprompted that Alternative Therapies Group worked hard to address residents’ and officials’ concerns, explain the proposal and meet with as many people around the city as they could.

“DPH did not contact me,” Salem City Councilor Bill Legault said. “I’m unaware of what DPH’s follow-through may have been. I did speak with ATG, maybe in March. ATG approached members of the council and city government very early in the process. We were gratified they did that. They met with neighborhood groups. They took questions, and not necessarily easy questions. They’ve been open and transparent.”

In Beverly, former Mayor William F. Scanlon Jr. said the city took a neutral stance on its two applicants, Andover’s CAS Foundation and Medicinal Evolution Inc.

“We did not get any queries from DPH after the applications were submitted,” Scanlon said. “We took an agnostic stance, neither for nor against, on these applications.”

The Joint Committee on Public Health, chaired by State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, D-Jamaica Plain, and state Sen. John F. Keenan, D-Quincy, will look into questions surrounding several dispensary applications.

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