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Medical Marijuana

Boston area lawyers apply for pot license

Two Boston area lawyers are among the five applicants hoping to open a registered medical marijuana dispensary in Franklin County.

Robert Carp of Newton and Stephen Cottens of Norwood applied for a license under the nonprofit name Baystate Alternative Health Care Inc. The nonprofit is unrelated to Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield.

Carp would not say where Baystate Alternative proposes to put a dispensary if granted a state license.

“We are currently researching the market,” Carp said.

Carp and Cottens also have an application in Hampden County. Carp said they are hoping to open three dispensaries in three different locations, which requires three licenses. Carp said they are not sure where the third dispensary would be.

Baystate Alternative also applied to open a dispensary in Hampshire County, but the application was rejected in the first round of review by the state Department of Public Health.

It would be the first time the two lawyers have worked in Western Massachusetts.

Carp said the partners have eyed the Pioneer Valley because of its farmland. He expects it would be easier to find a cultivation or grow center in western Massachusetts. The cultivation center, Carp said, would be 35,000 square feet.

“We have some contacts in Franklin County,” Carp said. “It seems like a fairly friendly place to do business.”

Carp and Cottens are partners in the law firm Carp Law Offices LLC. specializing in compliance law. Carp and Cottens have worked in law for four years.

The two lawyers’ most recent work involves helping others set up medical marijuana dispensaries in states such as California, Colorado and Arizona. The law partners have worked with more than 60 people set up similar ventures and have performed 100 compliance audits on medical marijuana facilities, Carp said.

“We’ve done this for years,” Carp said. “We’re very involved in the industry. We’re probably the most experienced of all the people who applied.”

What attracts Carp to the industry is personal experience, he said. Some of Carp’s relatives suffer from Crohn’s disease.

“It’s time. It doesn’t make sense to pursue people and incarcerate them for something as small as this. It makes sense to legalize (marijuana) and regulate it,” Carp said.

Cottens is also a Newton police officer. Carp has experience in agriculture, raising crops since he graduated from college in 1977. He said he earned an undergraduate degree from Purdue University, a master’s degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Massachusetts School of Law.

Carp said he and Cottens would be approaching communities shortly — a step required by the state.

“Transparency is critical. We want to make sure people know what we are doing,” Carp said.

Carp said Baystate Alternative expects to employ 45 people.

This week, the state Department of Public Health announced 158 of 181 initial applicants were invited to move forward in the application process for the competition for one of the 35 medical marijuana licenses the state can issue. The state requires at least one dispensary, but no more than five, for each of the state’s 13 counties. Twenty-two applicants did not pass muster in the first round of review and one withdrew.

Applicants have until Nov. 8 to turn in the second part of the application. A state selection committee will evaluate the applications based on the appropriateness of the proposed site, geographical distribution of dispensaries, local support and the applicant’s ability to meet the overall health needs of registered patients, while ensuring public safety.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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