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August 30, 2013

Salem, Beverly eyed for marijuana clinics

A Swampscott healer, a Beverly area musician and a Newburyport businessman head up three of the 16 groups which filed applications with the state to open medical marijuana clinics in Essex County.

The state Department of Public Health released last Friday the names of 181 groups vying for the 35 licenses the state can issue as a result of a new law approved by voters last November.

Nonprofit organizations that receive licenses will be registered to grow, process and dispense marijuana to patients.

Although it will be months before licenses are issued, nonprofit groups are already meeting with municipal officials and scoping out possible sites.

“I’ve met with three groups that expressed an interest,” said Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. She said they all seemed “very serious.”

Officials in Beverly and Ipswich have held similar meetings.

Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt said he had “several calls” a few months ago, but nothing recently. Even though it proved illegal, an attempt to ban dispensaries in Peabody may be the reason.

None of Cape Ann’s communities — Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester — have zoning provisions regarding where such a facility can or should be allowed.

The state will screen the large pool of applicants seeking a license on a number of criteria, including financial viability and nonprofit status.

This preliminary review is expected to be completed by next month after which a Phase 2 list will be announced. Those candidates will be scrutinized on such factors as local support, appropriateness of the site and the applicant’s ability to meet the overall health needs of patients.

“Right now, we’re pushing the pause button until the state vets all of the candidates,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll said she has met with three groups including North Shore Progressive Health, which is headed by Lynne McCarren of Swampscott, who described herself as a certified energetic healer.

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