Over two years ago, Connecticut passed a law allowing for medical marijuana, but after so many months, there is still no medicinal cannabis legally for sale in the state. This is due, in part, to the difficulties faced by probable dispensary owners facing indignation from towns and municipalities who still look down on medical marijuana use.
Numerous towns in the state, such as Fairfield and West Haven have made zoning laws such that a medical marijuana facility could never legally operate there, even though at the state level, owners would be well within their legal rights. Some towns, including Madison, New Canaan, and Westport, have issued moratoriums on marijuana dispensaries until a committee can review zoning rules, and a Bridgeport zoning board recently turned down a licensee who wanted to start a legal marijuana business there.
Only four growers and six dispensaries have been licensed so far. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed the 2012 law that requires a pharmacist to dispense marijuana and only for very specific ailments.
Part of the reason zoning boards aren’t giving dispensary owners carte blanche to open their medical marijuana businesses is due to superstitions and ill-informed opposition of the already legal substance. There is still the wide-spread tale that medical marijuana will ‘hurt the children,’ and invite illegal black markets (even those these already exist, as evidenced by the high number of national marijuana possession arrests). These are marijuana myths. Hopefully, as more people are educated, more dispensaries will open.
The very first dispensaries are planned to open in Connecticut this summer, and already 2000 patients eagerly await to use medical marijuana. They have had to register with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection by supplying proof of identity and paying a $100 fee.
Ironically, many of these people already obtain medical marijuana from black markets, which are not taxed, and have no regulation, but that are ignored by authorities because they feel it would be cruel to interfere with persons having ‘real’ medical issues. There was concern about making these individuals wait on a legal dispensary when the law was already on the books in 2012.
Sadly, the zoning issues are pervasive. Just last month, Bridgeport’s city zoning officials turned down a medical marijuana dispensary license for D & B Wellness which would have been in a centralized location in an abandoned library building. Opponents said they were uncomfortable with a marijuana dispensary being close to a ‘low-income’ area.
“We’re not opposed to helping the people,” claimed one opposer. “We don’t like the location.”
“Would you want that next to an apartment building with children?” she asked. This question pervades many people’s mindset, even though dispensaries would regulate medical marijuana more than they are now regulated on black markets.
D & B is appealing the decision to the city and courts, but the company only has one week to show it has zoning approval. This means patients will have to travel much farther to get their medical marijuana dispensed if the application does not get approved.
This is all rather unnecessary and definitely unconstitutional considering that under current Connecticut law, patients may buy up to 2.5 ounces every 30 days. Zoning boards are just getting too power hungry, and their ill-informed constituents are blocking a medical miracle from happening in every town across the USA.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.