Medical pot hopefuls court Greenfield
GREENFIELD — The former president of Eastern Mountain Sports and two out-of-state medical marijuana dispensary owners hope to bring 10 to 12 new jobs and serve 3,000 patients in Franklin County if they were to open a dispensary in Greenfield.
Patriot Care Corp. met with Greenfield Mayor William Martin Friday to discuss their proposal.
Patriot Care Corp. is one of eight groups that were not granted their proposed locations, but were invited by the state Department of Public Health to seek a change of location to a county that didn’t get a dispensary this month. Franklin County and Berkshire, Dukes and Nantucket counties did not get licenses.
In the first phase of the state Department of Public Health application process, Patriot Care eyed Greenfield as a potential dispensary location. But it switched to Northampton after the town began considering a moratorium.
Patriot Care applied for three dispensary licenses, for Northampton, Worcester and Lowell. It only received a provisional license to operate in Lowell. The cultivation facility would be centered in South Hadley.
If granted a license for Greenfield, Patriot Care said it had a few ideas on where it could locate a dispensary, but it would be willing to go wherever the town wanted it. Patriot Care did not say what location options it had in mind.
Members of Patriot Care are Robert Mayerson of Harvard, Michael Abbott of Nantucket and Nicholas Vita of Nantucket.
Mayerson is the chief executive officer and director of Patriot Care. He received a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College and a master’s in business administration from the University of Massachusetts.
Most recently, Mayerson served as president, chief operating and chief financial officer for Eastern Mountain Sports Inc., a national outdoor sports company based in New Hampshire. Over the years, he also served as vice president of Staples Inc. based in Framingham and director of corporate finance for PEPSICO Inc.
Nine months ago, Mayerson, who was looking for something new to do, reached out to Abbott.
“It piqued my interest. It was an opportunity to do some good for people in need,” Mayerson said. “The number one focus is patient care.”
The president and director of Patriot Care is Michael Abbott, a former managing director of Raptor Group, a private investment firm, executive director for Goldman Sachs and Co. Inc. in New York, and a London police officer.
Nicholas Vita serves as the treasurer and director. He currently is a senior partner with Apelles Investment Management, LLC. a firm based in New York. He also served as a vice president in the healthcare department of Goldman Sachs and Co. Inc.
Abbott and Vita serve as executives for three dispensaries in Washington, D.C., and Arizona.
The two men are part of the team, VentureForth LLC, commonly known as Capital City Care, to receive the first license awarded in Washington, D.C., and became the first group to start dispensing in nation’s capital city in 2013. Capital City Care has both a dispensary license and cultivation license, the only group in the capital to receive both licenses.
In Tempe, Ariz., Abbott and Vita helped to open Salubrious Wellness Clinic, or S.W.C. Tempe last year, where they have a super majority interest in the medical marijuana market there. The pair co-managed the design, permitting and build-out of the 1,000-square-foot dispensary and 25,000-square-foot cultivation facility.
The third facility is 203 Organix, 4,000-square-foot dispensary and a 35,000-square-foot cultivation center in Prescott, Ariz.
Patriot Care said it would work closely with local law enforcement.
A 26-year career veteran of local and state police, George Agganis of Lynn would be chief security adviser. He would serve as a liaison to the Greenfield Police Department, sharing information. Agganis said he would allow police to review the dispensary’s security plans in advance.
Agganis is a former Georgetown Police Officer from 1985 to 1998 and state Environmental Police Officer who oversaw much of the region between 1982 and 2011. He was also a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force from 2001 to 2004. He is currently retired.
Although Abbott and Vita have operated dispensaries out of state, Vita emphasized that they are local Massachusetts men.
The group would work full time for Patriot Care in Massachusetts. Vita, who has been travelling between residencies and states, said he wants to establish a home in Massachusetts.
“This is a full-time job we’d run on a day-to-day basis. We’ll be operating the facilities and hire people locally,” Mayerson said.
Patriot Care hopes to bring between 10 and 12 jobs to Franklin County to handle accounting, cultivation, sales and management.
According to Patriot Care’s business plan contained within its initial application for Hampshire County, positions included a board of directors, a board of advisers, and a general manager who oversees the dispensary facility manager, inventory manager, security manager, accounting and human resources. There would also be security guards and dispensing agents. On the cultivation side, there was a senior horticulturist, a cultivation technician, cultivation and production assistants.
Based on illness incident rates and prevalence of disease in the region, Mayerson said he estimates 3,000 patients in Franklin County. It would take them a few years to achieve that number as it establishes relationships with patients.
At S.W.C. Tempe, Abbott and Vita oversee 12 employees who treat more than 100 patients a day, seven days a week.
At 203 Organix, 11 employees treat 75 patients per day, seven days a week.
The goal for Patriot Care, which like all the state-sanctioned medical pot dispensers, is a nonprofit corporation, Vita said, is not to make money.
“Our job is more to save lives and improve the quality of life,” Vita said. “We try to run a business self sufficiently and try to reinvest any capital back into the community.”
If granted a license in Franklin County, Vita said Patriot Care would support the community.
At their out-of-state dispensaries, Vita said, they offer “substantial discounts to veterans and senior citizens.”
They also grow organic food to donate to local food banks, support local philanthropists, open wall space for local artisans, and make donations to local public safety departments and first responders.
“We want to be a fabric of the community,” Vita said. “We’re trying to create new legs of philanthropy.”
Patriot Care would also like to help initiate research so there can be real data on the benefits or non-benefits of medical marijuana use for patients.