This Thursday (April 5, 7 p.m., Town Hall), the Planning & Zoning Commission considers 3 applications to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Westport.
A cloud of controversy has swirled around the proposals, which include the 2nd floor of the old Bertucci’s restaurant (now a weed-filled lot, with overgrown grass); the former Blockbuster video rental store, and the Academy of Dance. Last year, the P&Z approved up to 2 dispensaries in Westport.
Among their arguments, opponents cite the potential harmful effects of marijuana. Several “06880” commenters worry about the specter of bongs in storefront windows.
The applicants say such fears are overblown. Medical marijuana, they say, has come a long way from the old days.
There are now many more ways to ingest the drug. It’s used to treat a variety of diseases, from Crohn’s, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis, to the appetite loss, nausea and pain associated with chemotherapy.
There are sprays, patches and topicals. “Edibles” — cannabis available in food form — are particularly popular.
So — in an effort to educate Westporters on modern medical marijuana — the 3 applicants have joined forces. They’ll offer free samples to P&Z members — and any adults attending Thursday’s meeting.
The samples are legal under a section of the state statute legalizing medical marijuana. Doses of up to .05 ounce may be provided to anyone over 21, once a year, “for educational purposes only.”
The applicants will provide cannabis-infused cookies, popcorn, crackers, nut mixes, lollipops, ice cream, gummy bears, chocolate bars and chews.
A variety of medical marijuana edibles.
“This is a joint effort between all 3,” says Mary Jane Roche, spokeswoman for one of the organizations vying for a Westport location. “We’re not trying to stir the pot.”
“We’re taking the high road,” notes Bud Kush, CEO of a 2nd group. “To be blunt, if we didn’t try to educate politicians and residents, we’d have wasted an opportunity.”
“Westport is not filled with dopes,” he adds. “There are well-meaning people with good intentions on both sides of the issue. We want to hash this out intelligently, and do be good citizens.”
(Pre-registration is required for Thursday’s P&Z meeting. To register, or for more information, click here.)