SALEM — When it comes to medical marijuana, Boston’s loss could be this city’s gain.
The Department of Health recently announced that only 11 of the 20 medical marijuana outfits it had originally approved to open dispensaries across the state would actually be allowed to do so, after a verification process found problems with several applications.
That was good news for Alternative Therapies, the dispensary that’s still on track to open at 50 Grove St. in Salem early next year. But local officials say it also means the dispensary could see heavier traffic than it had anticipated, at least temporarily.
Half of the state’s counties aren’t slated yet to host any dispensaries, and one in particular could boost visits to Salem: Suffolk. Two groups had applied for licenses in Boston, but both were eliminated — leaving the city without any marijuana dispensary.
Mayor Kim Driscoll said Alternative Therapies could see more traffic than anticipated, but she expects any pressure would be eased when the DPH authorizes more dispensaries, including in Boston, something it expects to do in October. After that, each will go through a build-up process that could last up to six months, meaning they’d open at least several months after Alternative Therapies expects to.
“I guess I would say that it’s likely to be a short-term situation,” Driscoll said. “The initial 11 won’t be the 11 for long.”
The DPH has stressed that 97 percent of the state is within a 30-mile reach of the nearest dispensary, indicating what it perceives to be a reasonable travel distance.
The Salem dispensary would be the closest to prescription holders in Gloucester and across Cape Ann. No one has applied for a dispensary license in any of Cape Ann’s four communities, and the only corporation to seek any type of medicinal marijuana facility for a Cape Ann town — the approved Garden Remedies of Newton, which sought to develop a cultivation facility at a site on Western Avenue in Essex — withdrew its application amid community opposition and 24 hours before a Special Town Meeting chose to approve controversial new limits that essentially bar the siting of any medical marijuana facilities within the town.
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