Ruckus weed hearing brings condemnation from First Selectman
WESTPORT — Following a raucous meeting in which residents booed and cough over speakers during a hearing on two applications for medical marijuana dispensaries, First Selectman Jim Marpe sent out a statement of condemnation.
“Rules for proper decorum in public meetings and gatherings are critical aspects of a civilized, democratic society. Our children look to us as examples of suitable and appropriate means of expression and acceptance so that all opinions are heard and respected,” Marpe wrote after the April 5 Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) meeting.
Although no decisions were made, the commission voted to continue both hearings until a later date, the public was enraged, especially those opposed to the dispensaries, and at one point a Westport police officer came in to call for respectful debate on a political topic.
Michelle Mechanic was one resident who spoke in favor of approving the facility proposed for 345 Post Road East.
Mechanic has epilepsy, and while her FDA-approved medication works now, may not in the future, which makes medical marijuana a hopeful option, should she need it.
“We are a demographic that lives in the shadows,” Mechanic said of people living with illnesses in Westport. “At the last meeting one of the things that made my heart sink most was the comment that marijuana carries with it a stigma that doesn’t belong in our town. That sends a message that people like me carry with us a stigma that doesn’t belong in our town,” Mechanic said.
Meanwhile, many residents spoke against both locations saying the applicants are opportunists who seek to come into the community to make money and noted medical marijuana is technically illegal at the federal level — a schedule 1 drug. More, residents said a potential facility may attract crime and other safety concerns at the proposed location of 1505 Post Road East in close proximity to Long Lots school and other youth-oriented businesses and healthcare centers.
“It’s simply not in keeping with the spirit of what makes Westport and particularly our neighborhood a really great place to live and raise a family,” Maple Ave South resident Sally Fisk said of the application for a dispensary at 1505 Post Road.
The attorney representing the 1505 Post Road property, Attorney Eric D. Bernheim of Holloran & Sage, LLP, said the Planning and Zoning Commission already passed zoning regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries and thus if an application fits the regulations, approve the application.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will next meet to discuss the medical marijuana dispensary applications on April 19.
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