The board eventually voted to approve the permit. The conditions they anticipate setting involve signage, security, landscaping, parking and hours of operation. They also want in writing that the special permit cannot be transferred to another dispensary and that no cultivation would be allowed at the site under any circumstances.
Several people spoke in favor of the dispensary at the meeting, including city Councilors Josh Turiel, David Eppley and Beth Gerard.
“What they have described to me, this is going to be a run-of-the-mill doctor’s office,” Gerard said.
Rose Mary O’Connor, chairwoman of the Mack Park Neighborhood Association, also delivered supportive comments.
“They’ve been more than willing to meet with us,” she said. “I can’t say enough.”
Nobody spoke against Alternative Therapies at the meeting, although the opportunity to do so only came about three hours after it began.
The closest thing to opposition Alternative Therapies encountered came during a brief exchange with board member Richard Dionne, who said he was concerned that one of the conditions that could qualify a patient for medical marijuana is hepatitis C, which is “usually is associated with dirty needles for heroin use,” he said.
Atkins objected to the characterization, but Dionne continued.
“You would agree that marijuana is a gateway drug?” he asked.
Edwards said he didn’t, that he believed alcohol was more of a “gateway drug” than marijuana.
Board members quickly changed the subject.
Later, Curran read aloud a letter of support for Alternative Therapies from state Rep. John Keenan. It was apparently the first time a local or state official had offered outright support — as opposed to “non-opposition” — for the dispensary.
The board will meet next on March 19, at which point the permit’s conditions are expected to have been developed.
Alternative Therapies hopes to open by Aug. 1. It will need to pass a state inspection right beforehand in order to do so.
Neil H. Dempsey can be reached at email@example.com.