By John Lynds
Less than a month after voters in the Commonwealth voted to approve the recreational use of marijuana, the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted unanimously in favor of establishing a medical marijuana facility being pitched on McClellan Highway.
Newton-based Happy Valley Ventures LLC is pitching a medical marijuana dispensary at 220 McClellan Highway. The ZBA approval is the last local hurdle Happy Valley needs to clear before gaining state approval from the Department of Public Health.
Despite a 29-15 vote against the dispensary by the Orient Heights Neighborhood Council, the dispensary received support in the neighborhood outside of Orient Heights and from City Councilor Sal LaMattina.
“I said I would support a dispensary in my district and I did just that at the ZBA,” said LaMattina. “I’ve heard from too many patients that cannot get this medication and we need to start providing better access for the 35,000 patients in the Commonwealth. This is one small step in improving access. We have several pharmacies in the neighborhood, I ask those who are in opposition what the difference is.”
LaMattina said the proposed facility, that is separated from the neighborhood by the four-lane McClellan Highway, will be arguably the most secure building in the neighborhood.
“I have seen the proponent’s security plan,” said LaMattina. “They have experience in other states and I think they will do a good job here.”
Kris Kane, who is helping Happy Valley set up the Eastie location and has experience with medical marijuana facilities in other states, said the plan is to create a state of the art, high tech 7,500 sq. ft. medical marijuana facility. Like LaMattina, Kane said that most residents wouldn’t oppose a pharmacy opening in their neighborhood despite the fact that a pharmacy has less security and carries far more dangerous drugs like OxyContin.
“This would be a very safe and very secure building because the state mandates that these dispensaries have a top notch security plan before opening,” said Kane.
If the DPH signs off on the plans, the facility would create 20 local jobs and give much needed access to prescription marijuana in the area.
In April, the Ludlow Board of Selectmen signed off on Happy Valley’s plan to begin cultivating medical marijuana for its proposed dispensaries in Eastie as well as in Amherst and Gloucester.