After Summer Of Discontent, Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens Without Problems

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Connecticut - The issue: A proposal over the summer to open a medical marijuana dispensary off Route 6 in Bethel one of six licensed by the state and the only one in Fairfield County met with alarm from some in the community. Marijuana had been illegal in Connecticut for about 80 years until the General Assembly decriminalized medical marijuana in 2011.

The next year, the state approved a law allowing the controlled sale of medical marijuana and drew up detailed regulations for the growing, sale and purchase of the substance. After much competition, the state issued licenses to four growers and the six dispensary operators. To be able to purchase medical marijuana, a patient with one of 11 particular medical conditions, such as cancer, post traumatic stress or epilepsy, and referred by a physician must first receive an identification card from the state. The proposal by the two owners of D&B Wellness to open the Compassionate Care Center of Connecticut in a vacant building at 4 Garella Road was approved in May by the Bethel town planner because it met criteria for that zone.

Several towns in the state reacted to the new industry by enacting moratoriums, and two Bethel residents appealed to the town's Zoning Board of Appeals. During several hearings over the summer, concerns were expressed that the opening of such a dispensary would lead to crime and disrupt the neighborhood on the other side of the highway overpass.

What we wrote: We ask the ZBA to let the zoning officer's decision stand and to allow the medical marijuana dispensary to open. Understandably, it might be difficult to accept the sale of a prescribed drug that has been illegal in this country since the mid-1930s. but change is happening throughout the country. Connecticut was the 21st state to approve the closely regulated sale of medical marijuana. The what-if objections what if marijuana gets legalized for recreational use, what if hippies show up in vans to steal marijuana from the sick, what if drug dealers try to buy the substance are unfounded.

June 1, 2014 Members of Bethel's Zoning Board of Appeals acted equitably, and demonstrated great patience, in agreeing that a medical marijuana dispensary could open on a street off Route 6 in Bethel. The members appropriately focused on the merits of the case an did not yield as they should not to fears and speculation.

July 20, 2014 Where it stands: The Compassionate Care Center of Connecticut opened in mid-September and received its first product from a certified Connecticut grower on Sept. 23. About 200 people purchased a limited amount of the legal marijuana from a pharmacist (the state allows each eligible person only 2.5 ounces every 30 days) in the first week. As of Friday, about 300 customers had been served, said Angela D'Amico, one of two partners of the center.

Until the volume of harvesting increases, the cost of $17 to $19 a gram is higher than street value. But because of the rigid testing, the strains are consistent and pure, D'Amico said. She expects the price to decrease by 10 percent when more arrives later this month and to offer edible oil and smokable oil as well as the ground up flowers. Those who can now legally buy medical marijuana to relieve their debilitating symptoms seem grateful. One customer, D'Amico said, responded in pay-it-forward style and donated money for others who could not afford it. Bethel police report no increase in calls or crime in the vicinity of the dispensary. One false alarm came in before the dispensary opened, Capt. David Brooks said Friday.

"Protocols are in place," he said, "thus far, nothing problematic." With nearly two weeks of operation, Fairfield County's first medical marijuana dispensary has served a need for hundreds, and the worst fears of some residents have not materialized. The what-ifs are not happening, and all can breathe easier now.



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Source: Newstimes.com
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Website: After summer of discontent, medical marijuana dispensary opens without problems - NewsTimes