By John Lynds
At last Wednesday’s Boston City Council Hearing City Councilor Sal LaMattina joined his colleagues in voting to not oppose the plan to place a medical marijuana dispensary on McClellan Highway in East Boston.
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.
“I voted not to oppose the medical marijuana facility because I think the applicant’s location is appropriate, they have a good security plan, the address is away from the residential neighborhood and separated by a four lane highway with plenty of parking,” said LaMattina.
LaMattina said he was partially swayed by the testimony of medical marijuana patients at last week’s Council hearing.
“We heard from patients with ALS, chronic pain and other diseases from East Boston and the surrounding areas that need convenient access to the medication their doctor has prescribed,” said LaMattina. “Voters in East Boston supported medical marijuana 60 percent to 40 percent when it was a ballot question so now we need to help these patients because they are in need of a specific medicine that helps their quality of life.”
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. While a lot of people think when the law went into affect medical marijuana patients had instant access but snow points out that her group has been fighting for four years to get more dispensaries to open in the state.
Snow and others have pointed out that since the law went into affect there have been only six dispensaries open in the entire state to serve the 30,000 patients with medical marijuana licenses.
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 Eastie 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. “We estimate there would be roughly 40 patients in and out of the facility per day.”
However, some in Eastie worry if the next ballot question passes, which would legalize medical marijuana for recreational use like similar laws in Colorado and Washington State, Happy Valley may turn into a full blown pot shop.
However, there is no intention for Happy Valley to be anything more than a professionally run medical marijuana dispensary according Reardon.