Milford Tackles Medical Marijuana

City officials contemplate new state law while under a two-month moratorium on accepting applications.

Milford Tackles Medical Marijuana Credit: Patch File Photo
Milford Tackles Medical Marijuana Credit: Patch File Photo
City officials are mulling over the state’s new medical marijuana law and debating whether to draft new zoning regulations for prospective dispensers looking to set up shop in Milford.

“The growing facilities, we have certain zones that reach the definition,” City Planner David Sulkis said at a Planning and Zoning Board meeting last month. “But dispensaries have a unique use not spelled out in our books.”

Sulkis clarified his point in an interview this week, saying that growers (also called producers) are probably covered under certain industrial zones, which are approved for that type of agriculture, but that there’s nothing specific in local zoning laws for marijuana dispensaries.

Two options

Basically, the city can do one of two things, Sulkis said. It can draw up new zoning regulations that are exclusive to medical marijuana dispensaries or do nothing and have applicants apply for zoning approval via a special exception permit.

Sulkis noted that the second option would give the board “a lot of leeway” in determining whether a location is suitable for its proposed use. This way, dispensary applications would be handled more on a case-by-case basis.

City Attorney Jonathan Berchem agreed that the board would have more discretion if an applicant had to go the special exception route. The “harmony and nature of the neighborhood” could then be discussed to a greater extent, he said.

Berchem said both growers and dispensers require local zoning approval.

While other Connecticut municipalities have pushed moratoriums on accepting applications to as long as a year, Milford's board opted for a two-month embargo, which expires Feb. 27.

1,343 patients

The state Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) says it plans to award three grower licenses and three to five dispenser licenses in the first round of applications.

That round closed Nov. 15 with 16 producers and 27 dispensers petitioning for certification. At least some of those licenses are expected to be issued in January, WNPR reports.

There are 1,343 registered medical marijuana patients in Connecticut; the majority in New Haven County (408), Fairfield County (337) and Hartford County (257), according to the DCP.

Sulkis said the state intends to spread out the approved growers and dispensers across Connecticut.

In order to be eligible for medical marijuana, the DCP says a Connecticut-licensed doctor must diagnose a patient with a “debilitating medical condition” that is identified in the law, though others can be added.

The conditions include cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others.

Trusting the state

Berchem, the city attorney, called the state law “highly regulated.” But others have their doubts.

While two of his zoning colleagues argued against any length of a moratorium at the December meeting, then-Board Chairman Mark Bender said he had some skepticism about the new state law.

Bender’s comments came as the board was also contemplating a development on Pond Point Avenue that was proposed under the oft-controversial affordable housing state statute 8-30g.

Over the span of a month, hundreds of residents converged at public hearings to protest the development, which the board eventually rejected.

“I look at it,” he said of the new medical marijuana law. “I don’t trust the state.”
tlkensington January 09, 2014 at 08:03 AM
Woo Milford can be now know for porn, package, pizza, and pot! Kidding aside, this is a good thing. Lots of people will benefit from being able to use pot for medical purposes and not having to rely on some pharmaceutical creation. Hopefully, in the years to come we can legalize the sale of it like Colorado and make lots of money.
Mark Lofthouse January 09, 2014 at 08:57 AM
TLK, I agree with you, but with this new found tax money there will also be a host of new social issues Milford and the state will have to deal with. Sort of a Catch 22. LOL on the four P's!!
MikeP January 09, 2014 at 09:53 AM
If a person has a cause they want to fight for, then take the bull by the horns and do it. Rattling off things other people could be focusing their efforts on otherwise is not productive and does not address any valid concerns. I'm sure CT patients who are eligible will welcome this... Whether it was loosely regulated in California, legal in Colorado, or highly regulated in CT... In the end, after the media hype, Nothing changed.
arkay January 09, 2014 at 10:24 AM
I don't understand what the "social" issues are when this is strictly for medical use. And not like in California where anyone can get a prescription. Hopefully it gets legalized nationwide at some point. The benefits of legalizing far outweigh any imaginary downsides.
Mark Lofthouse January 09, 2014 at 10:50 AM
I fully agree and support Medical use for marijuana. The "social" issues I referrer to relate to future legalization for recreational use. Just like alcohol, marijuana use will take its toll and no doubt result in Federal, State and local government spending to counter its effects. Again, I am 100% behind this product being used to help ease pain and suffering for medical issue. But have concerns for the recreational use. Like I said, it will be a Catch 22.
Tmc January 09, 2014 at 09:27 PM
I give it til July 4 until they are shut down from illegal distribution of it; too many stoners around here for that not to happen. Nice to see at least one person doesn't trust the state. That P.O.S. Malloy lies like a rug.
Cindy Rifkin January 09, 2014 at 09:42 PM
So mark what do you recommend. Illegalizing alcohol?
Cindy Rifkin January 09, 2014 at 09:46 PM
So what exactly does counter the effects of legalizing mariquana mean to you?
C.S. January 09, 2014 at 11:42 PM
Once the tax revenues are posted from legalized sale of marijuana in CO (and eventually in WA) you will start to see many other states follow suit. So long as it is regulated like the sale of alcohol is I see nothing wrong with it being available for recreational use. I do hope that the revenue gained from our newest sin tax is used to help defer some of the rising taxes that are imposed on homeowners and dwindling middle class.
MikeS January 10, 2014 at 07:35 AM
We are at this very moment beginning to witness the leading edge of an avalanche of change in the legal status of certain prohibited drugs. You can almost sense the general social position on this topic shifting, day by day, and this is not lost on law makers, who are finally feeling like they won't be viewed as heretics for proceeding with these changes. First came the medical usage exceptions for cannabis in a few states. Then, there was the bold, across the board legalization of marijuana in CO and WA. Now, more and more states are realizing how lucrative an enterprise this can be and are mulling new legislation. Eventually, when something like 2/3 of the states in the union have legalized marijuana, the federal drug statutes will need to be modified, and a few of the hold out states will be dragged along, probably kicking and screaming. As it gains momentum, this movement is going play out like a game of dominoes. Eventually, it may be 5 years, 10 years or longer, you will see a model adopted like in other countries where *possession* (not distribution) of small amounts of other narcotics will no longer be a crime. 20-30 years from now, we will look back on the history of drug enforcement, and wonder how in the world people were incarcerated for lengthy sentences for simply using drugs, when violent offenders, thieves, etc. often spent less time in jail for their crimes.
Greyson Schwing January 10, 2014 at 08:14 AM
Its about time we let go of the bogus war on drugs and focused our resources on stuff that really matters.
Mark Lofthouse January 10, 2014 at 08:36 AM
@ Cindy Rafkin - the Federal Gov. tried Prohibition in the 1920's...it didn't work. It would be silly to try this again. However, alcohol has destroyed the lives of millions of Americans and marijuana sold recreationally will do so as well. Once the Genie is out of the bottle you'll never put it back in. My point is, tax dollars will be used to counter its effects, much the same as we all pay the price for alcohols destructive effects. The new revenue from legal pot will not be without 100% pure profit for the state. I do see pot being legal across the US as others have suggested, you can't stop it. We just need to be prepared for the fall out.
Mark Lofthouse January 10, 2014 at 08:42 AM
Greyson - agree about using funds for other needs. But we still have other drugs to monitor, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, opium, LSD and more. The only way to eliminate the war on drugs is to make all drug legal. Tough topic. Pros and Cons on both sides. For now, we'll just have to see how recreational marijuana goes.
Brandon January 10, 2014 at 10:39 AM
It's about time for this. I think people are starting to realize you can push for legalization and not be thought of as a pothead. Maybe you see the tax benefits, maybe you see the lives ruined by needless incarceration over a substance that doesn't even kill brian cells. Maybe you see the benefits of industrial hemp and all it's uses. Or maybe you see countless police resources wasted on trying to stop people from smoking one plant that has never killed anyone while others legally enjoy smoking another that can kill you. Think about this stat when considering the war on drugs: American cigarettes kill way more Columbians than columbian cocaine kills Americans. Have you guys ever heard of L.E.A.P.(Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)? It's an organization of ex-law enforcement persons who are trying to end the war on drugs. Great group to look into.
MikeP January 10, 2014 at 10:50 AM
HEMP! I wish there was more of a public push on this.
MikeS January 10, 2014 at 12:32 PM
@Brandon, I most definitely have heard of L.E.A.P., and I always point to that organization as a very common-sense, informed support network for those interested in learning more about the decriminalization of drug possession.
David Chesler January 10, 2014 at 11:46 PM
Mark, it's already sold recreationally, just not legally. What are these ill effects? Most of the downside is caused by its illegality.
John O'Neil DVM January 11, 2014 at 09:43 PM
Everyone is overlooking one thing. Organized crime. Not just mafia but according to Fox News today Mexican cartels are already in Colorado setting up shop. The legislatures fed right into their hands and now it's going to get really ugly. Stupid is as stupid gets. The DEA tries to stop illegal drug trafficking at the borders so states make it legal. A multi billion dollars business right into their hands
David Chesler January 12, 2014 at 03:14 AM
So kick out the organized crime. Or maybe we should make trash hauling illegal because I hear organized crime gets involved in that industry too. The more illegal the business, the harder it is to police it, and the only people who do it are, by definition, people who are willing to break the law.
MikeS January 12, 2014 at 08:40 AM
@John O'Neil. Please provide a link for your story. After some Googling, I haven't found any articles that back up your claim that the Mexican drug cartels "are setting up shop" in Colorado. The marijuana shops out there are state licensed & regulated; not just anyone can open a store.
Hal DePino January 12, 2014 at 09:27 AM
@MikeS - I found it on my first try: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/01/11/colorado-pot-shops-likely-targets-cartels-say-experts/
psmiller January 12, 2014 at 11:19 AM
Medical Marijuana today--recreational use tomorrow--this is the direction we are going. Shameful what we are doing to future generations: (and if you think that regulating it like alcohol is the answer--I laugh--the rate at which our youth are drinking is evidence of that failure of regulation) Let's examine Colorado's experience since "de facto" legalization of retail stores after Medical Marijuana Expansion post-2009 (can't wait to see stats since the recent legalization) But since CT is dealing with Medical Marijuana that is what I will stick with-- 1. Medical Marijuana cardholders rose from 1,000 to 108,000 from 2006 to 12. 2. Licensed dispensaries rose from 0 to 532. 3. Youth use is now the 5th highest in the nation (50% above the national average. (if Denver were a state, it would have the highest public high school past month use rate in the country) 4. 74% of Denver-area teens in treatment reported that they used somebody else's medical marijuana an average of 50 times. 5. ER visits for children under 5 rose by 200% from 2006 to 12. 6. The number of fatal crashes with drivers testing positive for medical marijuana rose from 23% to over 50% from 2006 to 12. I ask--is this the direction CT wants to go? Or how about Washington State where legalization of recreational marijuana happened in 2012. 1. Impaired driving increased 50.8% from the point of legalization.
psmiller January 12, 2014 at 11:25 AM
And, did anyone know that the way that the law and regulations are currently written it is NOT your doctor who writes the prescription for medical marijuana--he/she approve your medical marijuana card. It is the PHARMACIST who writes the script. I question this practice as my doctor knows my history, past and current 'scripts etc...won't I have to share this info with the pharmacist in order for them to write and fill my medical marijuana 'script? And, if so, do I even want to?
psmiller January 12, 2014 at 11:28 AM
Those who comment on cartels involvement in this arena playing are correct. Need to add the tobacco companies to the list of those who have entered the playing field of recreational marijuana citing that they are already set up to grow with mega amounts of land already used for tobacco growth.
Tmc January 12, 2014 at 11:48 AM
Pfft! Why does it just have to be Mexican cartels? Vancouver BC has one of the biggest underground pot growing systems on earth and isn't too much father to Colorado than Mexico is.
David Chesler January 12, 2014 at 12:37 PM
So let me get this straight: the DEA, which is afraid it will lose its lucrative, unconstitutional business model in Colorado, anonymously says without evidence that they're afraid the Mexicans are afraid they will lose their lucrative, illegal business model. (Unconstitutional: Alcohol and Marijuana are treated equally under the US Constitution, neither is an enumerated power of the federal government, so both are reserved rights under the 9th and 10th Amendment. The Federal government needed the 18th Amendment to regulate alcohol, but seized the right to regulate other drugs.) "6. The number of fatal crashes with drivers testing positive for medical marijuana rose from 23% to over 50% from 2006 to 12" This implies the marijuana was causative in those crashes, but without knowing whether there was a comparable change in drivers who were not involved in crashes, it is meaningless except to suggest that as marijuana use becomes legal, more people will use it. What was the total rate of fatal car crashes? How did it change compared to similar states that did not relax marijuana laws?
tlkensington January 12, 2014 at 02:03 PM
John is engaged in a game of telephone. Read an article that said, "Colorado Pot Shops Likely Target of Cartels, say Experts." Then he posts essentially "Cartels running pot shops in Colorado."
D V January 12, 2014 at 02:23 PM
I just love it when a poster borrows from some BS hack-job article they read on the internet as if we readers are going to be convinced it's authoritative without even looking it up. Please, Mr O'Neil. That article Mr DePino cited is a tendentious piece of garbage. It doesn't even matter what your position on the issue is - anyone with an IQ in the center mass of the Bell curve could tell you that that article is flimsier than toilet paper hanging from a tree - and you even tried to hang something of your own invention from it! Folks, keep in mind: when you peddle malarkey masquerading as journalism, you lose credibility and so do your fellow proponents - perhaps unjustifiably, but it's so. Now I have to wonder about where Miller got his "facts" (yes, those quotes are sneering) before I waste effort to even consider whether they're persuasive or relevant.
MikeS January 12, 2014 at 04:39 PM
When I begin reading an article published by Fox News, citing unnamed federal drug enforcement agents as its source, my B.S. detector springs into high gear. We don't even have to go into the whole "partisan media outlet" garbage, or try to establish which news agency leans in what direction. I can just tell you that when I hear grumblings from federal drug enforcement agents concerning the evils of decriminalization of drug possession, it doesn't matter which news site it's posted on, I scoff at their opinions. Bring me the opinions from sociologists, economists and non-biased people who are immersed in data, not sour grapes from federal agencies with a vested interest in the status quo, who know that their days of soaking up billions of tax dollars to perpetuate a senseless "war" on its own citizens are numbered. Listen, we've had how many years (30+?) of the law enforcement and Moral Storm Troopers trying to forcibly eradicate the "drug problem"? What we've learned along the way is that controlling consumption of intoxicants, whether it be drugs, alcohol, tobacco or cough medicine, is not a law enforcement challenge, but a challenge of economics. The learnings from prohibition in the 1920's were clearly lost along the way, and that has doomed us to repeat the same mistakes again. Don't listen to people who try to frame this discussion in any context other than economics and personal freedom/responsibility.
tjc360 February 02, 2014 at 03:37 PM
It will be legal nationwide by the end of the year, the domino's are falling, even Omama made a good point.


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