Next Up For P&Z: 2 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries In Town?

The first 2 items on the Planning & Zoning Commission agenda for Thursday, March 15, are straightforward: applications for a building and parking lot on Elm Street.

The second 2 items are different.

Shoreline Alternative Care — which runs the new integrative pharmacy near Shake Shack — is applying for a special permit and site plan approval for a medical marijuana dispensary facility, and a change of use from restaurant non-patron area to retail, for 833 Post Road East. That’s the former Bertucci’s restaurant, at the foot of the Sherwood Island Connector.

Then, Acreage Connecticut LLC requests a special permit and site plan approval for its own medical marijuana facility and wellness center, for 1505 Post Road East. That’s the former Blockbuster video rental center.

Connecticut legalized medical marijuana in 2012. There are currently 9 dispensaries in the state. Two are in Milford; one each are in Bethel, Branford, Bristol, Hartford, South Windsor, Uncasville and Waterbury.

There are 4 grow facilities, in Portland, Simsbury, Watertown and West Haven.

The P&Z’s March 15 meeting is at 7 p.m., in Town Hall. The public may comment on the applications. Click here for the full agenda.

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

13 responses to “Next Up For P&Z: 2 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries In Town?

  1. Tom Kashetta

    Just what this town needs…. NOT !!!

  2. Anne Nolte Dippel

    Ugh!!!!

    Anne Nolte Dippel 917.751.5724

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Anne Nolte Dippel

    Sorry wrong “send”

    Anne Nolte Dippel 917.751.5724

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  4. Isabelle Breen, LCSW

    AS a Social worker, well versed in substance abuse, I’d have some concerns too. However, I’ve also seen it do wonders for symptoms of cancer, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and trauma. Especially, with trauma. Years of therapy did not produce the results of well managed marijuana use in enabling persons to be much more functional and entering the workforce and getting them off welfare. Imagine that!

  5. Joyce Barnhart

    Dan, why did you put up the map showing the counties?

    • Michael Pettee

      I think the map is interesting as it shows that .001393 percent of the population of Fairfield country are registered pot users.
      As a native Westporter, I’ll also offer my two cents from Minnesota: our office is adjacent to a medical marijuana dispensary/facility here in Saint Paul. It could not be more of a non-event. The only thing one really notices is that each in the slow trickle of patients/customers is clearly very ill and seeking treatment or pain relief.

      • Joyce, I posted it for exactly the reason Michael says. It’s important to have facts and numbers. Why do you ask?

        • Joyce Barnhart

          I saw if first on my phone and it was not clear. Sorry. I agree that in any issue the facts and numbers are important.

  6. I served on the Westport P & Z Commission between 2013-2017.

    Shortly after joining the Commission, I attended the first meeting of the P & Z Sub-Committee, set up to review the best way to design and implement regulations related to medicinal marijuana, fully expecting to see many Westporters attend and pitch in their thoughts and comments. 4 people were present and 3 of those were P & Z Commissioners (Chip Stephens, Chair, Jack Whittle, Vice-Chair, and me, the then newbie). I believe that this was the pattern for most if not all succeeding meetings (which I did not attend).

    I sat on two applications heard by the Commission related to this issue. The attendees on both occasions were almost entirely “stakeholders”. Residents of the town were mostly conspicuous by their absence.

    I do not know whether this absence was evidence of indifference or apathy, or something else. It was certainly surprising to me.

    On the broader issue of whether the town should be host to one or more dispensaries, I feel that much of the adverse reaction I have heard and seen is based on emotion rather than logic.

    Marijuana is a controlled substance. Prescription opioids are controlled substances. Both marijuana and opioids can have negative effects, which is why they are, or have been, controlled substances. In my mind there is no logical difference between a marijuana dispensary and any pharmacy in its dispensary capacity. Both dispense controlled substances, which cannot lawfully be obtained without a prescription (in states that do not allow recreational marijuana, as here in CT). Both have to have secure locations for those controlled substances. Both have to have procedures in place to ensure that controlled substances are supplied only to those in possession of a prescription. Based on information provided to the Commission at one of the applications, marijuana dispensaries can bank their money in the usual way so long as their bank is a state bank. Assuming that is the case, there are no additional security measures that marijuana dispensaries have to take with regard to the safely of cash receipts. Notwithstanding that we have had pharmacies dispensing controlled substances in accordance with laws and regulations, for many years, we have a serious opioid addiction issue in this country. I do not believe that the risk of similar adverse consequences arising from locating one or more marijuana dispensaries in Westport or anywhere else is any greater than for ordinary pharmacies dispensing controlled substances. Conversely, for those Westport residents who need to fill lawful marijuana prescriptions, the absence of a local dispensary can be problematic.

    If I was sitting on the Commission now, faced with this question, I would approach the issue from what I consider to be this logical perspective.

    However, the wider point here, in my opinion, is that this is an important issue and I truly hope that town residents will turn up and participate so that the Commission can be as fully informed as possible when rendering its decision.

  7. Ana Johnson

    I think the P&Z or the town should at the very least educate Westporters about how a medical marijuana facility is run, the safety of them (has there been an increase in crime in those towns where these facilities are currently?), what sort of foot traffic or average number of customers do they tend to have daily and who is actually eligible to get a prescription. I don’t know the answers to any of this but I know that most of us probably have a misunderstanding of how these businesses are run and what they actually are like as opposed to what we might see on some TV show. Furthermore, based on the very little I know, I think Westport P&Z has little room for rejecting one of these facilities if they are in the approved zone, etc. They are legal in Connecticut… It’s hard to really take a view on supporting or not supporting this without more information and I think it would be great if the P&Z or the applicants could share that with people.

  8. Caryl Beatus

    THIS IS A NO-BRAINER. PERSONS REQUIRING MEDICAL MARAJUANA SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO IT NEARBY.

  9. India V Penney

    I was initially concerned when I read a recent post elsewhere by some Westporters who are unhappy with the idea of medical marijuana dispensaries in large buildings featured prominently on the Post Road.
    But I did some thinking and some research … and I realized I’m really not that concerned at all.

    For one thing, we’re not talking about drug users. We’re talking about people with terminal illness and/or chronic pain and/or debilitating lack of appetite and/or incipient blindness — etc. etc. — all looking for relief.
    Pharmacies exist all over the country legally dispensing oxycodone and other opioids which, in the wrong hands and at the wrong dosages, can kill you. Marijuana isn’t lethal.

    For another thing, these dispensaries have credentialed licensed pharmacists and medical doctors on site. You must be evaluated and approved by a doctor, who will determine if medical marijuana is a viable option for you. Then you’ll be given a certificate or card authorizing your purchases.
    Most of the dispensaries I researched in the other areas of Connecticut are all large and lovely. They have bright and airy waiting rooms, a professional front desk and sales counters, offices for administrative and medical staff, patient intake and counseling rooms, and rooms for other healing modalities like yoga and energy healing and massage and reiki, etc.
    These dispensaries are considered “wellness centers” and “compassionate care centers” and their focus is on helping people.

    I’m not certain we need TWO dispensaries in Westport. My recommendation to P&Z would be to start with one and see how it goes.

    It’s my understanding that we’re only zoned for a maximum of two, which is good.

    The bottom line is — these dispensaries aren’t about dirty little drug dealers in back alleys providing a high for unsavory characters.
    They’re here to help the sick.
    That’s terrific.

  10. Cornelia Fortier

    Keep in mind, these are medical facilities.