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By CLAIRE BESSETTE Day Staff Writer
Norwich - David Kimmel, one of two applicants vying for a state license to produce medical marijuana in Norwich, says his proposal is not about "growing pot," but rather about building a high-tech biomedical facility to extract key chemicals from cannabis to treat numerous medical problems.
Kimmel will present an overview of his plans during a 6:45 p.m. informational meeting Monday prior to the City Council meeting.
Kimmel's Vintage Foods Ltd., with an office in Ledyard, and Bloomfield-based Nascent Sciences LLC are among 16 companies that have applied to the state Department of Consumer Protection for one of three state licenses to produce medical marijuana under the new state law legalizing medical marijuana. State officials are expected to award licenses early this year.
Both companies would use the former Decorative Screen Printing building at 9 Wisconsin Ave. in the Stanley Israelite Norwich Business Park for fully indoor production of medical marijuana.
Kimmel said officials at the Norwich Community Development Corp. contacted him to discuss the possibility of placing a facility in the business park, which is already zoned to allow pharmaceutical production.
Jason Vincent, vice president of the Norwich Community Development Corp., will start off Monday's meeting outlining what he said are benefits to the city of attracting a medical marijuana facility. The facility would utilize a vacant building that has undergone a more than $1 million renovation to make it suitable for new development.
Because the facility would be entirely indoors, Norwich Public Utilities stands to receive substantial electric, gas and water revenue from the operation, Vincent said, along with city taxes and the potential of attracting ancillary businesses.
Kimmel said he will not emphasize the "obvious" benefits such as tax revenue, jobs and utilities, but rather the medical aspects of his proposal. He said he has an agreement with the Yale School of Medicine, which he said is included in his application, to bring a research arm to Norwich to explore many potential medical uses for various chemical components of marijuana.
"Outside the U.S., the research that's being done is remarkable," Kimmel said. "It's almost astounding. Regrettably, we don't hear about it."
Kimmel said his company would produce medicines that could be taken orally as a pill or as a nasal spray. Some treatments would be topical on the skin and others transdermal, penetrating the skin. The ability to produce consistent, reliable doses of the medicine is important for patients, Kimmel said.
"Our application does not read like a cannabis-growing company, but a biotech company to access chemicals in the plant and how to formulate medicine without combustibles," Kimmel said. "It's not 'let's smoke a joint and get high.'"
Kimmel, who is originally from New Jersey, has a background in culinary arts and promoting healthy foods for hotels and other facilities. He and his wife, Martha Kimmel, co-authored the book "Mommy Made, and Daddy Too," advocating home cooking for babies and toddlers to improve health and reduce their consumption of salt, sugar and food additives.
Norwich Mayor Deberey Hinchey, who recently retired as a clinical social worker, said she is impressed with Kimmel's proposal and supports the concept of extracting medical components of cannabis to treat pain and other ailments.
"He has a good sense of business, as well as science," Hinchey said of Kimmel. "He's insistent that it's not about getting high. That's an important piece of the information."
Who: Norwich City Council
What: Informational meeting on “Medical Cannabis and the licensing process for production facilities through the State of Connecticut and the medical benefits to society," according to the meeting notice
When: 6:45 p.m. Monday
Where: Council Chambers, Norwich City Hall, 100 Broadway, Norwich