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February 1, 2014

State OKs pot farms

Two facilities to pursue local permits to open

AMESBURY – Both companies interested in opening medical marijuana cultivation facilities have been awarded provisional licenses, the state Department of Public Health announced yesterday.

Alternative Therapies Group Inc. and Green Heart Holistic Health and Pharmaceuticals were each among the 20 applicants selected by the state to receive licenses to open and operate medical marijuana businesses. With the state licenses in hand, both businesses can go to the Planning Board and begin the process of setting up shop immediately.

ATG will open its facility on South Hunt Road, and GHHHP will operate at 10 Industrial Way, which is off of Monroe Street near the Salisbury border. Neither business will be allowed to dispense medical marijuana from their Amesbury locations, and will instead dispense from separate locations in Salem and Boston respectively.

The nearest dispensary to Amesbury will be located in Haverhill and will be operated by Healthy Pharms Inc. ATG’s dispensary in Salem will be the next closest, and the two will be the only dispensaries in Essex County.

“We’re excited, and relieved I guess that all of our efforts have paid off,” said Chris Edwards, who heads ATG. “At the risk of sounding cheesy, this is a huge milestone for patients getting access to the medicine. Now there’s some clarity of who the operators are going to be, where they’re going to be, and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for the patients.”

Edwards said the companies will need to go through the city’s permitting process before opening, but he expects his facility to be up and running by the summer. The Salem dispensary’s target opening date is Aug. 1, he said, so in order to meet that goal, the cultivation facility would need to be ready at least eight to 12 weeks earlier to ensure time for a full growth cycle.

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