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Medical Marijuana

3 Franklin County towns draw pot interest

DEERFIELD — The towns of Deerfield, Greenfield and Whately have become ground zero in Franklin County as five applicants compete for a license to open a registered medical marijuana operation here.

A Montague fish producer, a Whately potato farmer, a Greenfield liquor store owner, a pair of Boston-area lawyers, and a Tampa, Fla., group are among the applicants.

The five nonprofit groups are A New Leaf Inc., JM. Farm’s Patient Group Inc., Baystate Alternative Health Care Inc., MR Absolute Medical Services, Inc. and Holistic Speciality Care.

The groups are in the middle of developing the second phase of their applications to acquire one of the 35 available licenses statewide.

While one nonprofit, JM Farm’s Patient Group Inc., directed by farmer James Pasiecnik of Whately, Nicholas Spagnola of Revere and Joshua Sodaitis of Somerville, has already met with the Whately Board of Selectmen to get community support for its proposal, the four other groups have largely remained out of the public eye.

On the state health and human services website, phase one applications can be found. In those applications, the groups provide their funding sources, whether they have been convicted of drug-related felonies and where they propose to put a treatment center.

A New Leaf Inc.

Josh Goldman, the founder and chief executive officer of Australis Aquaculture, a fish farm in Montague, has teamed up with Marina Goldman and Susan Lowry, also of Montague, to open a dispensary and cultivation center in Deerfield under the nonprofit corporation A New Leaf Inc.

Australis is the producer of fresh and frozen barramundi products sold to retail and food service markets at more than 4,000 outlets across North America.

Goldman is an internationally known leader in the sustainable seafood movement, who spearheaded the introduction of tilapia in the United States and founded one of first tilapia farms. He also founded AquaFuture Inc., which raised striped bass until 2003 in Turners Falls.

A New Leaf did not want to make plans public yet.

“We are currently formulating a comprehensive proposal that we expect will meet the needs of patients and the broader Franklin County community. While we are developing our proposal, we will not be making any public comment until we are prepared to present it to the appropriate city or town board,” said Executive Director Marina Goldman in a statement.

MR Absolute Medical Resources

Michael Ruggeri, owner of Ruggeri’s Beverage and Redemption Center on Deerfield Street in Greenfield, has applied under the nonprofit MR Absolute Medical Resources Inc.

The longtime Greenfield business owner has listed his hometown as the location of two dispensaries.

The state allows for a registered medical marijuana treatment center to cultivate, prepare and dispense from one location or two locations.

Ruggeri has run successful businesses in Franklin County for 40 years, from his liquor store to a real estate company.

Baystate Alternative Health Care

Two Boston area lawyers, Robert Carp of Newton and Stephen Cottens of Norwood applied for a license under the nonprofit Baystate Alternative Health Care Inc.

Carp and Cottens are partners in the law firm Carp Law Offices LLC specializing in compliance law. Most of their experience is in helping others set up medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, Arizona and California.

The pair have proposed a cultivation facility in Chicopee. The dispensary would be in Springfield in Hampden County. But the lawyers also plan to use the Chicopee cultivation facility to grow for two additional dispensary locations. The pair have not said where the two additional dispensaries would be, but they have an application for Franklin County.

In total, Carp previously said they are hoping to open three dispensaries in three different locations, which requires three licenses.

In addition to providing medicine, the group would also provide massage, yoga, educational services and counseling according to its mission statement.

Holistic Speciality Care

Chirag Amin of Tampa, Fla., Amar Amin and Dimpal Parikh, both of Ocean, N.J., have proposed putting a treatment center in Greenfield. The group did not specify between the dispensary and cultivation center.

In its mission statement, the group said it would strive to remain on the “cutting edge of scientific research to better understand the emerging knowledge about marijuana and its medical use.” The group also hopes to reduce the stigma associated with marijuana.

JM Farm’s Patient Group

James Pasiecnik of Whately, Nicholas Spagnola of Revere and Joshua Soditis of Somerville have proposed siting a dispensary and cultivation center in Whately.

The cultivation center would be at 207 River Road.

The group is also looking at property in the South Deerfield Industrial Park.

As one of the few towns across the state to not enact a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana treatment centers, Deerfield is sought by entrepreneurs looking to break into the new medical industry quickly.

Interim Deerfield Town Administrator Wendy Foxmyn said the town received many calls early on from a range of interested parties.

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

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