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Norwalk Zoning Commission Approves Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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The Norwalk Zoning Commission has given the okay for medical marijuana dispensaries, but with some restrictions. They will be allowed to open in the Business No. 1 zones. A special permit will be issued by the Zoning Commission.

The zoning regulations were amended on August 16 to allow regulations for permitting medical marijuana dispensaries, according to The Hour. After several months of discussions, weighing the pros and cons of dispensaries, the commission finally agreed to allow them, following a vote.

Director of Planning and Zoning, Steve Kleppin said, “No production facilities but dispensaries are allowed in the B-1 Zone only – just on Connecticut Avenue, the south side, and then there’s a little pocket off New Canaan Avenue.”

Zoning Commissioner Louis Schulman said, “I’ve had mixed feelings about this from the start. Because it’s an illegal substance, there really have not been adequate studies of the effects and impacts of marijuana. Nonetheless, it seems to help people with some fairly significant medical conditions, so I will vote in favor of dispensaries.”

Schulman, sees no value in allowing cultivation facilities in Norwalk though.

Dispensaries can submit applications, but none will be considered until at least October 30. This is a brief moratorium period to review information from the medical community and other sources.

Some local residents oppose medical marijuana dispensaries. One family lost their son to a drug overdose and said, “Our mission is to encourage and empower youth to be drug-free. If we legalize marijuana in any way, including marijuana dispensaries, we will have a difficult challenge to convince children that marijuana is unsafe.”

Others oppose the dispensaries as they believe it will negatively affect property values, the city’s reputation and its educational system. Other residents want Norwalk residents with medical marijuana cards to drive to other cities, such as Stamford and Westport to obtain their medicine.

Angela D’Amico of Compassionate Care Center in Bethel says that about 500 of the patients visiting this dispensary are from Norwalk.

D’Amico said, “We have many cancer patients that have tumor reductions that were given months to live. Three years later, they’re still alive, they’re thriving and they’re not on chemotherapy. There is a need for this product. In Fairfield County, we have patients that travel and hour from Greenwich and sometimes an hour from Norwalk (with) traffic on Route 7.”

Regarding Connecticut residents using medical marijuana instead of prescription opiates, D’Amico said, “We have over 400 patients that we’ve gotten off opiates. Every 11 minutes, someone dies in this country of an opiate overdose. And it’s 7,000 years and no one has died from cannabis. “

One resident mentioned that no one debated about “big-box liquor stores” coming to the city.

Diana Lauricella said, “I didn’t hear one word from anybody about the dangers of that.”