Groton among nine new medical marijuana dispensary locations

Groton will host one of the state's nine new medical marijuana dispensaries, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection announced Tuesday.

The department issued a request for applications months ago, seeking to add to nine existing dispensaries. The new locations were chosen from among 73 applications, including at least one from a company seeking to set up shop in New London.

GR Vending CT, LLC, located at 78 Plaza Court in Groton — in a plaza that was home to a former Benny’s — was the only New London County location chosen. Thames Valley Relief on Route 32 in Montville is the only medical marijuana dispensary now operating in southeastern Connecticut.

The last time the state issued a dispensary license was in 2016, and the medical marijuana program has since grown from 8,228 to 30,448 patients. The number of conditions that qualify adults for medical marijuana has increased from 11 to 31. There are more than 1,000 prescribing doctors.

“This program has been thoughtfully expanded since the bill was signed in 2012 and medication became available to patients in 2014,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said in a statement.

“This medication has improved the quality of life for tens of thousands of patients. We look forward to working with our partners as the program continues to expand,” she said.

Local legislators praised Tuesday’s news in a joint statement.

“I am so pleased that Groton has been selected by the Department of Consumer Protection to house this dispensary,” said state Rep. Christine Conley, D-Groton. “As the state continues to increase conditions covered under the program, and patients decide that medical marijuana is the treatment they’d like to pursue, we need to ensure that these dispensaries are readily available to them.”

“This dispensary will bring relief to folks in our community that have been prescribed medical marijuana and are forced to travel long distances to pick up their medication,” said state Rep. Joe de la Cruz, D-Groton.

The other eight new dispensaries will be located in Newington, Meriden, Mansfield, Torrington, Stamford, Westport, Windham and New Haven. Some Democrats have called the legalization of recreational marijuana a priority in the upcoming legislative session and Gov.-elect Ned Lamont has expressed support for such a move.

The DCP said the new dispensaries will receive their licenses after paying a fee and submitting final documents, which must occur within 14 days. After that, facilities can begin construction and will open as they become ready to serve patients.

Groton Town Planner Jonathan Reiner said the town treats marijuana dispensaries as it would pharmacies and that it is an allowed use at the location. The town issued GR Vending a letter of zoning compliance earlier this year.

New London’s Planning and Zoning Commission in March had similarly voted to interpret the classification of a medical marijuana dispensary as a retail use, treated the same as a pharmacy would be. Two applications had come before the commission, including one at 446 Colman St.

The idea of a medical marijuana dispensary and holistic wellness center was pitched for a site in North Stonington.

GR Vending lists its business address as 477 Elm Place, Highland Park, Ill., the location of Greenhouse Group LLC, a company that operates four medical marijuana dispensaries in Illinois.

A representative from Greenhouse Group LLC was not immediately available to comment.

More information about the state’s medical marijuana program can be found by visiting ct.gov/dcp/mmp.

g.smith@theday.com

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