Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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August 29, 2013

Proposed marijuana clinic takes first step

Andover remains possible site for dispensary

A Newburyport-based company has filed an application with the state Department of Public Health to open a marijuana dispensary in Essex County — possibly in Andover.

The company, Alternative Therapies Group, is one of 16 applicants for a dispensary in Essex County. In all, 181 applications were submitted to the state by last week’s deadline as part of the first phase of review.

Chris Edwards, president of the nonprofit company, confirmed last week that his organization filed an application and that the dispensary may end up in Andover.

“We are looking at a number of locations and have letters of intent on multiple properties,” Edwards said. “We are looking at a number of locations in a number of communities, but Andover is still a strong possibility.”

Edwards also told The Salem News, The Townsman’s sister paper, last week that his company is also considering a site in a “technology park area” in Salem.

Last fall, a medical marijuana ballot question passed overwhelmingly in the state. In Andover, 61 percent of voters approved the proposal.

State regulators recently issued guidelines for the businesses, which may only sell marijuana to people who have a doctor’s prescription based on a diagnosed medical problem.

Last Thursday, Aug. 22, was the deadline for Phase 1 application forms. The list of applicants includes the name of the nonprofit corporation, a contact person and the county of preference for the location. The list does not have specific addresses so it is unclear if any other medical marijuana dispensaries have been proposed in Andover or anywhere else in the Merrimack Valley.

According to state health officials, applications will be reviewed in two phases. Under Phase 1, dispensary applicants will be reviewed for, among other things, nonprofit status and financial viability. Applicants must also report whether any member of their proposed organization has a felony drug conviction.

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