Leaving the safely charted waters of the medical marijuana industry in Colorado for the great unknown -- the nascent MMJ industry in Connecticut -- sounds a little crazy, right?
Well, it would be if you owned a medical marijuana business in Colorado -- which is something Ethan Ruby has reportedly been claiming as he attempts to open a grow facility in Watertown, Connecticut under the business name, Theraplant. But his Colorado roots aren't exactly showing at this point.
Ruby told Waterbury's Republican-American newspaper that "Theraplant has had a growing facility in Denver for 3.5 years, which employed 29 people at its peak." The paper reported that "the Denver plant is ceasing production so he can concentrate on the venture in Connecticut."
But according to the Department of Revenue's Daria Serna, "Ethan Ruby is not in the State's DOR system as owning a dispensary in Colorado."
Could this just be a glitch in the DOR system? After all, we know this kind of thing happens....
Signs point to no. Ruby told the Boston Globe in an article last October that he is planning to create an organic marijuana distribution center to cater to patients like himself -- and nowhere in the article does it mention Ruby currently owning a dispensary.
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And Theraplant? As of this time, we could find no proof it ever existed in Colorado. There are a couple of business listings on sites like lookupbear.com and bizapedia.com, that show a business located in Plantsville referencing that name. The listings, however, are not complete and do not give any information regarding the business aside from its address -- 159 Nunzio Drive. Otherwise, the only other listing for "Theraplant" is for a dietary food supplement by Naturex and the flood of news stories that are claiming its existence.
We haven't been able to reach Ruby at this writing; we will update this post if he responds to Westword's interview requests. So for now, all we can do is speculate as to why he would claim ownership of a business that appears not to exist.
Continue for more about Ruby. Here's our three best guesses.
1. It gives him credibility when looking for investors.
The laws backing the medical marijuana legislation that was passed last year in Connecticut are very stringent. The state's Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) requires an application fee of $25,000 and an additional $75,000 if accepted, plus a $2 million bond.
According to the Republican-American article, Ruby has raised $750,00 from investors for the pre-application process and has another $7 million waiting on the contingency of getting a license.
With that money he plans to spend $2.5 million to purchase the building, $4 million in renovations, up to $1 million for lights and grow equipment, $200,000 for extraction equipment, and a large amount for the safe.
2. It looks good to the state.
Theraplant submitted a letter to the DCP in late April. In it, Ruby offers several recommendations for amendments to be made to the regulations concerning the Palliative Use of Medical Marijuana Law. These include changes to the policy that require producers to individually package marijuana prior to delivery. He also suggests altering storage rules, since "marijuana is fragile."
3. It gives him an upper hand in an undeveloped market.
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The law allows for at least three but not more than ten marijuana cultivation centers in the state. These operations will then sell to a number of dispensaries determined by the DCP. Patients will also not be allowed to grow their own and there have yet to be any dispensaries open in the state -- so being the first grow house in the area would be hugely beneficial.
Also, since Connecticut is the fifth most densely populated state, there is the potential for a larger customer pool in a smaller area. According to the "Kind Clinics Business Plan for Connecticut," this could make Connecticut an exceptional market for medical marijuana operators.
Of course, Ruby could be telling the truth about his Colorado past, at least in some roundabout, off-the-cuff way. But one thing's certain: His name isn't on the registry.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Cannabis Time Capsule: Tripping on THC in New York in 1893."