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Medical marijuana dispensary proposed for Post Road

Updated 11:45 am, Friday, September 6, 2013

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  • CT Wellness Centers, LLC, wants to open a medical marijuana dispensary in an empty storefront at 222 Post Road. Photo: Genevieve Reilly / Fairfield Citizen
    CT Wellness Centers, LLC, wants to open a medical marijuana dispensary in an empty storefront at 222 Post Road. Photo: Genevieve Reilly

 

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With zoning approval for a medical marijuana farm in West Haven in hand, David Lipton now wants to open a dispensary here at 222 Post Road.

The Town Plan and Zoning Commission has agreed to conduct a public hearing on the application to open the dispensary, which would be called CT Wellness Centers, but a date has not been set.

Lipton's lawyer, Diane Whitney, said receiving local zoning approval for the dispensary is a first step in the process of obtaining permission under recently approved state legislation. "Unless you get local approval, you can't apply to the state," she said.

The application was originally on the TPZ's Aug. 27 agenda for a certificate of compliance as a pharmacy use in a Designed Commercial District.

"Other than this map, I have nothing to vote on," said Commissioner Gerald Alessi. "There's no way I could vote on bringing medical marijuana to Fairfield based on these two pictures."

The commission voted 6-1 to send the application to a full public hearing.

"It is a compliance application," said Commissioner Patricia Jacobson, who cast the lone dissenting vote. "It meets the laws of Connecticut. I think we should vote on it as a compliance."

Whitney said her client looked at several different locations before settling on the former Post Road insurance office, located in a strip shopping center that houses restaurants, a laundromat and a car rental agency not far from the town's border with Bridgeport.

"This one is just ideal," she said of the proposed site. "It's small, it's low-key. It's near a number of other medical offices."

The state Department of Consumer Protection, which will license and govern medical marijuana dispensaries, estimates that there will be about 1,000 registered patients in the area, Whitney said. In fact, she said, the number of registered patients is one of the criteria that will be used by the state in determining whether to grant approval.

The state is expected to begin processing applications for dispensaries this month.

Whitney said the dispensaries will be closely regulated by the state.

Dispensary backers and employees must be registered with the state, and a licensed pharmacist must be on site during hours of operation. Pharmacy technicians must also be licensed and registered with the state, and all employees must carry ID cards that are renewed every year.

Only patients registered with the state and who have prescriptions from qualifying physicians may use a medical marijuana dispensary. Registered patients and their caregivers are the only people who can enter a dispensary. Any workmen, such as an electrician, can only be site provided advanced notice has been given to the Department of Consumer Protection.

In addition, security measures must include a perimeter alarm, motion detector, video cameras in all areas that may contain marijuana, a panic alarm, a silent holdup alarm, an automatic voice dialer, the ability to remain open during a power outage and a back-up alarm system approved by the state.

The medical marijuana must be kept in locked safes or vaults when the dispensary is closed and complete records of the receipt and sale of marijuana must be maintained.

The space at 222 Post Road should be "fairly easy" to outfit with the expensive and extensive security systems the state requires, Whitney said.

Whitney said they expect to have a small sign on the building identifying it as CT Wellness Centers.

Lipton, principal of CT Wellness Centers and Advanced Grow Labs, has an office at 61 Unquowa Road, according to state records.

greilly@ctpost.com; 203-556-2771; http://twitter.com/GreillyPost