One of the 35 licenses available from the state Department of Public Health to operate a dispensary for medical marijuana under the new law passed last November has been awarded to a group who plan to open the pot shop in Salem.
Alternative Therapies Group was one of only 20 applicants who passed the rigorous evaluation process for the licenses. Although there is a web site for the organization, it is not yet operational and only provides an e-mail address. ATG was founded in 2012 and is privately held. Its company address is 44 Merrimac St., Newburyport, Massachusetts 01950-2574
ATG Executive Director Chris Edwards has announced that they are planning to open the dispensary in a building at 50 Grove Street, near a Stop and Shop and the local Moose Lodge, very close to the Peabody line. 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. The marijuana itself will be grown in a separate facility, possibly in Amesbury.
Edwards is described as an “entrepreneur” from Newburyport and holds a registered trademark for Glydeskin condoms. Glydeskin does not yet have a working website either. He is also the CEO of Blackfin Media, based in Newburyport. BlackFin Media is described on its web site as “a full-service web development firm, delivering high-end custom website design, programming, SEO and marketing campaign solutions”.
ATG has developed some strong local political connections. It has been represented by Salem Attorney and former city councilor George Atkins. In October, the Salem City Council; voted to approve the process to allow development of a marijuana dispensary in the city. Former state representative David Torrisi has also been representing ATG in public meetings.
ATG was awarded the Salem license, beating out competitor Good Chemistry of Massachusetts a local based subsidiary of a Colorado based company. It looks like the local group was favored over the out of state group, possibly because of the existing relationships but also possibly because of the responsibility and accountability inherent in a local presence.