SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

August 27, 2013

A pot clinic near you?

Salem, Beverly eyed for medicinal marijuana dispensaries

A Swampscott healer, a Beverly area musician and a Newburyport businessman head up three of the 16 groups that filed applications with the state to open medical marijuana clinics in Essex County.

On Friday, the state Department of Public Health released the names of 181 groups vying for the 35 licenses the state can issue as a result of a new law approved by voters last November.

Nonprofits that get licenses will be registered to grow, process and dispense marijuana to patients.

Although it will be months before licenses are issued, nonprofit groups are already meeting with municipal officials and scoping out possible sites.

“I’ve met with three groups that expressed an interest,” said Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. She said they all seemed “very serious.”

Officials in Beverly and Ipswich have held similar meetings.

Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt said he had “several calls” a few months ago but nothing recently. Even though it proved illegal, an attempt to ban dispensaries in Peabody may be the reason.

The state will screen this large applicant pool on a number of criteria, including financial viability and nonprofit status.

This preliminary review is expected to be completed by next month after which a Phase 2 list will be announced. Those candidates will be scrutinized on such factors as local support, appropriateness of the site and the applicant’s ability to meet the overall health needs of patients.

“Right now, we’re pushing the pause button until the state vets all of the candidates,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll said she has met with three groups, including North Shore Progressive Health, which is headed by Lynne McCarren of Swampscott, who described herself as a certified energetic healer.

“We’ve taken cues from the mayor’s office,” said McCarren, 40. “She was very clear about staying clear of residential areas.”

A Salem city ordinance limits the clinics to business or industrial districts, and then only by a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

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