Branford has decided to allow the town's first medical marijuana dispensary in the same month that North Branford has approved a one-year moratorium on allowing such businesses to apply (see "North Branford's Medical Marijuana Moratorium" on page 11).
Final approval for the Branford dispensary still needs to be granted in the form of licensing by the State Department of Consumer Protection. The proposal approved by the Branford Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC), is from Bluepoint Apothecary, LLC, which is one of 21 companies that have properly applied for a state dispensary license. Connecticut's medical marijuana bill was passed in June 2012 and went into effect in October 2012, with a filing deadline for dispensary licenses of mid-November 2013. The state will grant no more than five licenses statewide for dispensaries, with the decisions to come in early 2014. The state lists 21 license applicants statewide, including Bluepoint Apothecary of Fairfield and its proprietor, Nick Tamborrino.
On Nov. 21, following a public hearing, the PZC granted Bluepoint Apothecary a special exception to open a medical wellness center/medical marijuana dispensary in a rear unit of 469 East Main St. The building is also home to Planet Fitness.
Tamborrino is a licensed pharmacist and stressed the professional manner in which the business would be managed, with approximately 15 patients seen during daily business hours. No displays of marijuana or the word "dispensary" would appear on the exterior. The proposal also addressed enhanced safety and security measures, from buzzing patients in (by appointment) to added surveillance and personnel. Tamborrino's practice would adhere to the policies of the State of Connecticut Medical Marijuana Program. With a doctor's prescription, recipients can receive a month's supply of marijuana in forms including those which can be smoked, swallowed (tablets), or worn (ointments and patches). Although sales of marijuana pipes are allowed by the state guidelines, Tamborrino told the PZC he did not intend to sell paraphernalia at the dispensary.
Six people spoke in support of the application, including the building owner, Gerry Mastrangelo, who told the PZC the dispensary will not be accessed from the Planet Fitness gym and also that no concerns have been voiced by gym members. One person questioned whether the dispensary should be located in the industrial-zoned area, but it was determined by the PZC that its definition as a medical establishment meant the use was proper.
The approval was given by unanimous vote of the PZC, with one exception, which reads, "There will be no retail sales of marijuana pipes on the premises."