By John Lynds
Newton based Happy Valley Ventures LLC is pitching a medical marijuana dispensary at 220 McClellan Highway. The address is the same address of a failed medical marijuana dispensary pitched in 2014 that did not receive Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) approval.
Chairman and Founder of Happy Valley, Michael Reardon said the plan is to create a state of the art, high tech 7,500 sq. ft. medical marijuana facility. According to Reardon, if the DPH signs off on the plans, the facility would create 20 local, good paying jobs and give much needed access to prescription marijuana in the area.
Nicole Snow of the Mass Patient Alliance, an advocacy group for medical marijuana patients said that since medical marijuana was legalized in 2012 in the state her group has been fighting for access.
“A lot of people think when the law went into affect we had instant access,” she said. “However, we have been fighting for four years to get more dispensaries to open in the state.”
Snow pointed out that since the law went into affect there have been only six dispensaries open in the entire state.
“There are 30,000 patients with medical marijuana prescriptions and yet we only have real access for a small fraction of those patients,” said Snow.
In April, the Ludlow Board of Selectmen signed off on Happy Valley’s plan to begin cultivating medical marijuana for its proposed dispensaries here in East Boston and also in Amherst and Gloucester.
In 2013, the Centers for Alternative Medicine Inc. was one of 100 Medical Marijuana Dispensary applicants after the medical marijuana law was passed. The Centers for Alternative Medicine pitched a facility at the same address as Happy Valley.
However, in 2014 the Centers for Alternative Medicine did not make the final cut once the DPH approved facilities in the area.
Happy Valley attorney, Jeff Drago, said the facility would have little impact on the surrounding community.
“There will be parking for up to 60 vehicles for patients and staff,” said Drago at Monday night’s Orient Heights Neighborhood Council meeting. “We estimate there would be roughly 40 patients in and out of the facility per day.”
Some at the meeting immediately opposed the plan. Karen Buttiglieri said although she voted in favor of the ballot question to approve medical marijuana she did not think East Boston was the best place for the facility. She worried if the next ballot question passes, which would legalize medical marijuana for recreational use like laws in Colorado and Washington, Happy Valley may turn into a full blown pot shop.
Drago clarified that there is no intention for Happy Valley to be anything more than a professionally run medical marijuana dispensary.