SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 5, 2014

Medical marijuana delivered to your door?

Councilor questions home delivery plan

By Neil H. Dempsey
Staff Writer

---- — SALEM — The medical marijuana group hoping to open a dispensary on Grove Street didn’t encounter much opposition at its meeting with the Gallows Hill neighborhood group last night, but one city councilor did question its plans to offer home delivery.

Alternative Therapies was licensed by the state last week to run a dispensary at 50 Grove St. It hopes to open by Aug. 1, but still needs approval from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, since dispensaries are considered medical clinics under local law.

Chris Edwards, executive director of the group, opened up the meeting at the Ancient Order of Hibernians on Boston Street with an introduction to his company and colleagues, then turned the floor over to questions from the audience of about 30 people.

“There are no free samples,” he said.

Many of the questions posed to Edwards during the meeting concerned security at the dispensary site. Councilor William Legault asked how the dispensary would react should somebody manage to get inside and rob it.

Although he was reluctant to expose details of the group’s security plan, Edwards answered that a lockdown procedure had been established, and that the site would have security guards.

“They’re going to get detained,” he said.

Legault asked another question about whether people would be able to loiter outside the dispensary. Edwards assured the audience that nobody would be allowed to do so, and that even people giving rides to qualified patients would be asked to stay in their cars.

Another question posed to the group concerned what would happen should Massachusetts completely legalize marijuana; when that happened in Colorado, many medical marijuana dispensaries were in an advantageous position to begin selling recreational marijuana.

Edwards said he didn’t know if the dispensary would offer recreational marijuana under those circumstances, but that it would be a decision for the group’s board of directors, in any case.

“It’s possible,” Edwards said. “We’re talking about five to 10 years down the road.”

The issue of home delivery cropped up as Edwards answered a question regarding patients who don’t have private transportation and weren’t able to walk the mile to the dispensary from the closest bus line. Edwards said Alternative Therapies would offer delivery throughout the region, including to those under hospice care.

Later, Councilor Legault brought the issue up again.

“I’m very uncomfortable with this,” he said. “Not that I want to stop it, but I’m just uncomfortable.”

Edwards indicated that the deliveries would be made in unmarked cars driven by security professionals, and that video surveillance would be conducted the entire trip. He added that all of the deliveries would be made directly from the group’s proposed Amesbury facility, where the marijuana will be cultivated and prepared.

Legault said he was planning to speak with police Chief Paul Tucker about the issue, and that he might bring it up to the City Council.

“I just want more information about exactly how those are going to be conducted, and how if at all local law enforcement is going to be tied into the process,” Legault said in a later interview. “I just want more information on how they’re going to be done.”

Neil H. Dempsey can be reached at ndempsey@salemnews.com.