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Medical Marijuana

Montague OKs second medical pot applicant

MONTAGUE — Two developers have now expressed interest in opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Montague, the latest in a group including local businessman Joshua Goldman.

Late last month, the Board of Selectmen granted Greenfield businessman and liquor store owner Michael F. Ruggeri’s request that they support his proposal to place a medical marijuana operation in Montague.

Last week, a Goldman representative appeared with a similar request that the board support or signal their lack of opposition to his proposal.

Goldman, CEO of Montague fish farm Australis Aquaculture, formed the nonprofit corporation A New Leaf Inc. with his wife, Marina Goldman, and Susan Lowry. Paperwork filed by the group initially signalled plans for a dispensary and cultivation center in Deerfield.

Montague Town Administra-tor Frank Abbondanzio said the New Leaf representative, like Ruggeri, did not express interest exclusively in Montague.

The selectmen voted A New Leaf the same support as Ruggeri, again with the proviso that the board may give the same endorsement to any other applicant, Abbondanzio said.

Both requests follow the development of proposed bylaw changes accommodating medical marijuana development in town. Backed by the Planning Board, the new zoning is awaiting a vote at an as-yet-unscheduled special town meeting. Abbondanzio said that meeting would likely come before the end of January.

The new regulations would allow medical marijuana facilities by special permit from the Zoning Board in commercial and industrial zones only, but with many of the buffers established in the state Department of Public Health’s default guidelines left up to the discretion of the board. The proposed zoning is more restrictive than standard business zoning, but less so than the state guidelines.

A demonstration of local support, or non-opposition, is one of the factors that will be considered by the Department of Public Health committee formed to review applications and select the winning proposals. Geographical distribution will also be considered. The bill legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in Massachusetts stipulates a minimum of one dispensary per county and a maximum of five.

The Ruggeri and Goldman groups are two of the three locally to pass the latest pruning of the applicant list by the DPH.

Remaining are A New Leaf, Ruggeri’s Absolute Medical Resources, Inc., and JM Farm’s Patient Group Inc., directed by farmer James Pasiecnik of Whately, Nicholas Spagnola of Revere and Joshua Sodaitis of Somerville. Pasiecnik’s group has the support of the Whately Board of Selectmen, with plans for a cultivation facility in Whately and a dispensary in either Whately or Deerfield.

You can reach Chris Curtis at: ccurtis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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