Milford Mayor Asks State to Review Plan for Medical Marijuana Dispensary Near School

Milford Mayor Ben Blake called on the state Department of Consumer Protection to formally review an application for a medical marijuana dispensary on West River Street.

Blake questioned the facility’s proximity to a school, a church, and a tutoring office.

He says the dispensary would be 738 feet from Cornerstone Christian Church. Blake wrote that state regulations say a dispensary should not be placed within 1,000 feet of various community organizations including a church.

He wrote that “the dispensary license appears to be in conflict with state law.”

Blake say the community supports patients having access to medical marijuana but that a dispensary should be located in an appropriate location.

In response, Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris disputed the claim that state law required a certain distance between a dispensary and certain facilities.

Harris wrote that the department does take the neighborhood and various organizations into account, but is not required to reject a proposal simply because of a precise distance.

His office provided links to what it says are the applicable regulations here and here

Harris went on to write that the department “conducted a thorough review” of all the dispensary applications and left little room to restart the process.

“It would not only raise serious legal issues, but would be unfair to the businesses and the patients they will serve to revoke licenses that were legally issued,” Harris said.

Blake has not yet returned requests for further comment.

In January, the state announced that three new dispensaries are expected to open this summer including two in Milford.

Arrow Alternative Care #2 is opening the facility at 255 West River Street and Southern CT Wellness & Healing is opening the second facility at 318 New Haven Avenue.

A third facility, run by Caring Nature, is slated to open at 237 East Aurora Street in Waterbury.

Patients must have one of 17 approved conditions to be legally dispensed medical marijuana which comes in various products including oil, pills, and strips. The conditions that qualify include cancer, epilepsy, and muscular sclerosis.

In Milford, neighbors on West River Street say they were surprised by the announcement of the facility’s planned opening.

Many say they support medical marijuana but object to the dispensary’s placement in their neighborhood.

“The main concern I think is there’s just too many unknowns,” says John Skopp of Milford.

Signs that read “RELOCATE MARIJUANA DISPENSARY” are planted in several nearby yards.

Recently they were stolen, though later recovered, and now have been returned to their original locations.

Neighbors say they will continue their fight against the new business, despite running out of options and time.

“To me it doesn’t seem like anybody did their homework or checked it out to see if it was a suitable location,” says Lauralee Heckman of Milford.

Not everyone in the tight-knit neighborhood is against the dispensary.

James Przybylski says he works in the healthcare field and knows patients who are suffering and looking for relief.

That’s why he’s in favor of the facility.

“Anybody who can benefit from medicinal marijuana has no problem with me,” says Przybylski.
Mayor Blake also says he was concerned about the licensing process and that town leaders were caught off guard when it was decided the dispensaries would open in Milford.

“We need to work together,” Blake told the Department of Consumer Protection. He argued that local officials should be part of any review.

The department responded that its staff “acted in good faith” and made sure the dispensary would comply with the town’s zoning laws.

The commissioner, acknowledging the worries in the community, says the department has tried to answer all questions and calls the program “a model for the nation.”

“We cannot impose unnecessary obstacles for the thousands of truly sick patients who have found that this medicine that provides relief,” wrote Commissioner Harris.

As of March 27th, the state reports there were 9,720 registered patients in the Medical Marijuana Program.

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