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Two marijuana firms sever ties to Colo. couple

Two companies that won preliminary state approval for medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts moved quickly Wednesday to cut their ties with a Colorado couple, after the Globe reported Tuesday how the husband-wife team was forced to shut down their Boulder medical marijuana facility for numerous violations in 2012.

“They are in the process of severing their relationship,” said Donna Rheaume, a spokeswoman for Healthy Pharms Inc., which was approved by the state Department of Public Health for a provisional license in Haverhill, and Ermont, which was tapped for a facility in Quincy.

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The couple, Diane and John J. Czarkowski, were each listed as members of the executive management team of Ermont, and their marijuana consulting company, Canna Advisors, was hired by Healthy Pharms
to design and build a cultivation center and provide “oversight management” of the facility when it opens, according to applications the companies submitted to state regulators.

The Czarkowskis, who call themselves pioneers in the medical marijuana industry in Colorado, founded one of the first marijuana dispensary and cultivation centers licensed in Boulder, in 2009.

But three years later, their license to operate a marijuana cultivation facility was revoked by the city. Officials found a variety of violations, including that the company lied to obtain a construction permit to expand its operations and stored marijuana in unauthorized areas, according to city and state court records.

“Healthy Pharms and Ermont take these allegations very seriously,” Rheaume said. “Both groups are in the process of amending their organizational charts and are working within the Department of Public Health process.”

Leaders of the William Noyes Webster Foundation, a company that received provisional state approval for a dispensary license in Dennis, told the Globe Tuesday that it severed ties with the Czarkowskis several weeks ago, even before it learned of the Boulder license revocation, but had not planned to alert the state Department of Public Health until a meeting next week.

A fourth company, Coastal Compassion, which was denied its request to open a dispensary in New Bedford, but was invited to reapply for a license in another county, also hired Canna Advisors to build and manage its marijuana cultivation facility.

The company’s board of directors will meet later this week to discuss what action to take regarding its relationship with Canna Advisors, said Rheaume, also a spokeswoman for Coastal Compassion.

The controversy surrounding the Czarkowskis has prompted concern in Connecticut, where officials launched an investigation of the couple after learning of the Colorado license revocation from the Globe’s Tuesday report, according to The Hartford Courant.

John Czarkowski — director of production for Advanced Grow Labs LLC, one of four companies chosen for licenses to produce medical marijuana in Connecticut — agreed to resign his position after the Colorado license problems were reported, an attorney for the company told the Courant Wednesday.

Kay Lazar can be reached at Kay.Lazar@globe.com. Shelley Murphy can be reached at Shelley.Murphy@globe.com.
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