SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 1, 2014

Medical marijuana dispensary sites still a mystery

One applicant eyes Aug. 1 opening date

SALEM — The two nonprofits hoping to open medical marijuana dispensaries in the city are keeping quiet about exactly where they intend to set up shop.

Alternative Therapies Group and Good Chemistry of Massachusetts have both entered the second and final phase of the state’s application process to open a dispensary, the results of which are expected to be announced at some point after the end of this month.

Phase two applicants will be judged in part on the appropriateness of their proposed site, and each was expected to have identified feasible locations to the state as part of the application process.

Christopher Edwards, executive director of Alternative Therapies, recently declined to identify the address of his nonprofit’s proposed site but said it was “a matter of minutes from Route 114” in an area that was appropriately zoned and not downtown. Alternative Therapies has already signed a lease for the property, though it’s conditional upon the nonprofit receiving a license from the state and a permit from the city.

Under local law, dispensaries are considered medical clinics, thus restricting their potential location and requiring them to obtain a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Alternative Therapies aims to apply for that permit this month, before the decision about its license has been made, so that it can be on the board’s agenda for February.

Edwards said he was withholding the tentative location of the dispensary — which could open on Aug. 1, if all goes as planned — because the nonprofit hadn’t yet reached out to the site’s neighbors, some of which are residences. He said the location was chosen with an eye on making it easy for patients across the region to access it.

“It’s no secret that Salem is not the easiest place to get in and out of at times,” he said.

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