EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 1, 2014

Medical pot dispensary approved

Other groups get permission to grow marijuana in Amesbury; Lawrence site rejected

The state Department of Public Health issued 20 provisional licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries in 10 Massachusetts counties yesterday, including two in Essex County, and officials said the facilities could be open by this summer.

Healthy Pharms, Inc. received a provisional license to open a dispensary in Haverhill as city officials there continue to grapple with how and where to zone the facility. Alternative Therapies Group, based in Newburyport, received a provisional license to open a dispensary in Salem and a grow and cultivation facility in Amesbury.

Green Heart Holistic Health & Pharmaceuticals, Inc. received a provisional license for a dispensary in Boston and a grow and cultivation facility in Amesbury.

BeWell Organic Medicine, Inc., based in Methuen, did not receive a provisional license for its proposal in Lawrence.

Out of seven proposals for dispensaries in Essex County, two received the provisional licenses. Statewide, 20 out of 100 received the provisional licenses, though four counties – Franklin, Dukes, Hampshire and Nantucket – did not have any licensed proposals.

Eight “high quality” applicants that did not receive provisional licenses were invited into an expedited process to propose new dispensaries in one of those four counties, said Karen van Unen, executive director of the state’s medical marijuana program.

“I figured all along the department was going to be transparent,” said Valerio Romano, an attorney who represents Healthy Pharms. “Healthy Pharms score is up there, which puts them above many others who received permits. The application process was thorough and well thought out.”

Haverhill currently has a moratorium on dispensaries for the City Council to figure out where to zone them. Several residents have voiced their opposition to the dispensary, though the city as a whole voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in 2012.

Mayor James Fiorentini and City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien did not respond to requests for comment.

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