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February 1, 2014

State OKs 2 pot shops in county

Dispensaries in Salem, Haverhill awarded provisional licenses

The state has given two groups the green light to each open a medical marijuana dispensary in Essex County, and officials said the Salem and Haverhill facilities could be open by this summer.

Alternative Therapies Group and Healthy Pharms Inc. were the only two applicants in the county and 20 across the state to successfully negotiate the Department of Public Health’s stringent, two-phase application process, which was instituted after voters approved medical marijuana in 2012.

Alternative Therapies Group, based in Newburyport, received a provisional license to open a dispensary in Salem and a grow and cultivation facility in Amesbury.

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.

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.

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

Alternative Therapies’s proposed site is the ground floor of 50 Grove St. in Salem, a three-story brick building just down the street from the Moose lodge.

However, before Alternative Therapies can open up shop — something it hopes to do by Aug. 1 ­— it needs to get approval from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. The board is scheduled to consider the matter this month.

Chris Edwards, executive director of Alternative Therapies, said yesterday the 4,000-square-foot site would host a pharmacy, patient meeting rooms, a waiting room and office space, in addition to an area for security and product preparation. All of the marijuana sold at the site would be grown at an outside facility, likely in Amesbury.

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