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October 10, 2013

Med pot hopefuls eyeing Essex

ESSEX — Two applicants seeking to develop and build facilities that would legally cultivate and dispense marijuana for medicinal purposes under the new state law have their sights on locations within Essex, where town officials are sorting out the permitting process to deal with any such proposals.

One is Jonathan Napoli of Boston, owner of Boston Gardener — a hydroponic cultivation store that sells special lights, fertilizer, soil and other growing goods, and of Hempest, a Boston-based business that sells clothes, handbags and other accessories made of hemp. His first store opened in 1995, and there are now four locations.

He is now launching a new company called Planting Hope Inc., and he said Wednesday that he is considering a spot in Essex for a cultivation center.

Napoli did not disclose where in Essex that Planting Hope was looking to sow its seeds but said that a cultivation center would be less intrusive than other projects being considered for the same site.

“It’s only going to bring jobs and economic growth to the area,” Napoli said.

Meanwhile, filings with the Secretary of State show that a company called Medicinal Evolution, based in Peabody, is seeking to site a medical marijuana facility, and CEO Brandon Tarricone said Essex is one of 10 towns being considered in his firm’s medical marijuana manufacturing plans.

He said the site would be about 15,000 square feet and employ 25 people at first.

He said those potential jobs and other factors would remain local.

“One of our big concerns is our competitors are coming from out of town and out of state,” he said.

Medicinal Evolution has only applied for a license in Essex County, while Planting Hope also has applications in for Barnstable and Suffolk counties, according to a list of phase one applicants from the state Department of Public Health.

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