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Medical Marijuana

Liquor store owner wants to open pot dispensary

GREENFIELD — A longtime Greenfield businessman is one of the seven applicants who applied to the state to open a medical marijuana cultivation and dispensary center in Franklin County.

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

For 40 years, Ruggeri said this week, he has run successful businesses in Franklin County, including his liquor store, a real estate company and residential and commercial rental properties.

But the 61-year-old sees running a medical marijuana dispensary as a new chapter in his life.

The nonprofit would be unrelated to the liquor store, Ruggeri said.

“My motive is humanitarian,” Ruggeri said. “There are people suffering who may find relief from this product. I’m looking at this as a new chapter in my life of helping people.”

Even if registered patients can not afford the medical marijuana, Ruggeri said he would like to make it affordable.

“My concern is I want to make this available to patients with debilitating conditions,” he said.

With his extensive business background, Ruggeri said, “I feel like I can operate this in a professional manner.”

“I’m hoping I can do it because I feel like it will be good for Franklin County,” added Ruggeri.

Ruggeri said he has a location in mind, but he wouldn’t disclose it until after Sept. 18.

At that time, after undergoing state screening for background checks, nonprofit status and financial viability, Ruggeri will know whether he is eligible for Phase 2 of the application process by the state Department of Public Health.

“I plan to do the cultivation in Franklin County and dispensing in Franklin County. I would like to grow it locally. I love Franklin County and I’m going to be here a long time,” Ruggeri said.

Ruggeri said he has a few large buildings in mind where he can grow the marijuana. But he didn’t rule out teaming up with local farmers.

The state Department of Public Health requires grow centers to be in secure indoor locations, such as greenhouses or warehouses.

With the medical marijuana operation, Ruggeri hopes to create jobs for Franklin County residents.

Though he has no experience in agriculture, Ruggeri intends to hire professional staff, such as a botanist to operate the grow center and someone with pharmaceutical experience to run the dispensing site.

He predicts hiring between 10 to 20 people from Franklin County.

“These will be good paying jobs with benefits,” Ruggeri said.

The state Department of Public Health last week released the 181 names of entities who want to receive one of the 35 licenses available statewide. The state allows one to five dispensaries per county.

Applicants have a lengthy process to go through before getting one of the 35 licenses. Applicants are expected to identify financing sources, go through background checks on all employees, develop an operation plan for staffing, business hours and pricing and a security plan.

A second local applicant includes James Pasiecnik of Whately. The well-known potato farmer has proposed opening a 35,000-square-foot cultivation center at his property at 207 River Road in Whately with a dispensing site within the Whately Industrial Park. The nonprofit would be called JM Farm’s Patient Group Inc.

Other applicants who want to open dispensaries in Franklin County include Baystate Alternative Health Care, which has also applied to serve Hampden and Hampshire counties; A New Leaf Inc.; Fotia’s Inc.; Holistics Specialty Care Inc.; and Patriot Care Corp., which has also applied for Hampshire and Hampden counties.

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

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