While the owner of Scrimshaw, a medical cannabis shop at 500 Main Street in Rockland, and its out-of-state financier are in court, and while that business is temporarily closed pending a ruling about who owns it and the future of the business is uncertain, Jeremiah Pasternak, owner of the building, has a message for the community: Now’s your chance for a redo.

“I know a lot of people, three years ago, when they heard that there was going to be a pot shop downtown were sort of up in arms,” he said. “You know, it’s too close to X, Y, and Z. At the time, there wasn’t really anything they could do about it, because the town said, Yep, we’re gonna agree to it.” Now, he said, the sky’s the limit. “If the town wanted to buy it, or someone wanted to do a museum, or a gallery or restaurant or whatever, you know, this is the chance before another marijuana company swoops in. Because it’s ready to go for that.”

Pasternak said he expects to list the building for sale in the coming months. (Update: He anticipates the list price will be $1.4 million to $1.7 million but said he "would be willing to work with any interested local party based on their budget.") Pasternak's family has owned 500 Main Street since 2004 and has used it as storage for their antiques business. Nick Westervelt opened Scrimshaw in 2019 during the first wave of mom-and-pop pot shops and adorned the former church with colorful displays in the multistory windows of the atrium facing Main Street. The shop included a grow room where the public could see cannabis plants in several stages of development, a feature that would have been unheard of a year earlier.

In March, the Courier-Gazette reported Volunteer Wellness LLC of Nashville filed suit in Knox County Superior Court against Westervelt and four of his companies, including Scrimshaw and a grow facility in Union. At the end of March, Volunteer got a restraining order that forced Scrimshaw to close. Earlier in the month, Westervelt had applied with the city to open a bar, pool hall and game room in the building.

An attorney for Volunteer Wellness stated in court documents that the company invested $950,000 in Westervelt’s businesses in 2019 in exchange for a 49% share and a requirement that 90% of net revenue go toward repaying the investment, the Courier-Gazette reported. Volunteer Wellness claimed Westervelt stopped paying earlier this year and was planning to close Scrimshaw and replace it with another company, Pickle Lips LLC.

Westervelt and an attorney for Volunteer Wellness did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case was transferred to the Business and Consumer Court in Portland on May 3 and documents were not available for viewing in Rockland at the time of this publication.

In an email to the Courier-Gazette, Westervelt spoke of cutting ties with Volunteer Wellness and “standing up against the predatory practices of these investment firms” that are common in the cannabis industry.

Pasternak said he terminated his lease with Scrimshaw after the company fell behind on rent. Both parties to the business have expressed interest in a new lease, he said. In the meantime, other established cannabis companies have contacted him asking to lease the space. “I keep saying, Well, I’d rather not; I’d rather sell the building. You know, if that doesn’t happen in three or four months, I’ll consider it. But, you know, until then, I’d like to give the people on Main Street and the town itself a chance, if anyone has any big plans, I’d like to give them that opportunity.”