SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 8, 2014

Suit claims Salem marijuana dispensary too close to park

SALEM — Two businesses that lost out on provisional licenses to operate marijuana dispensaries are crying foul in a lawsuit filed earlier this week in Suffolk Superior Court.

But the operator of the proposed Salem dispensary says he believes the suit is simply a case of sour grapes.

The complaining businesses, Apex Compassion and Wellness Center and Striar Center for Compassionate Care, will be in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday asking a judge to issue an injunction barring the Department of Public Health from issuing the licenses.

The suit cites complaints about a number of the licensees, including Alternative Therapies Group, which was granted a provisional license to operate a dispensary at 50 Grove St. in Salem. That’s too close to Mack Park, the suit contends, estimating that the location is 350 feet from the park.

Department of Public Health regulations say marijuana dispensaries must be located at least 500 feet away from playgrounds.

Christopher Edwards, chief executive officer of Alternative Therapies, said he believes the dispensary meets the distance requirement from the areas of the park where children congregate on a regular schedule.

“There is more than an adequate buffer,” said Edwards. “The plaintiff is just mistaken on that point.”

The suit also cites what it suggested were “discrepancies” in the names of corporate officers between the first and second phase of the application process.

Edwards said those changes were fully disclosed during the process.

“My take is that the whole thing is frivolous,” said Edwards. “It’s also inappropriate when they’re in the middle of an ongoing process.”

Asked if he thinks the suit is simply a case of sour grapes, Edwards said, “No question. I’m sorry those groups weren’t successful, but I don’t think this is the way to rectify the situation. The things that have been raised as far as ATG are concerned are completely erroneous.”

Many of the suit’s complaints are based on published reports about irregularities in the application process, including complaints from officials in some communities that they were misled into signing letters that were then used to bolster applications. No such complaints have been made about the proposed Salem dispensary.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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