Could New Canaan get a pot shop?
Published 10:43 am, Thursday, September 12, 2013
Picture this: You're walking up Main Street on a brisk fall day. You stroll by Crew Cuts, noticing the young families in the window, continue past Pinocchio Pizza, Garelick & Herbs and then ... Ye Olde Pot Shoppe.
While it may be a far-fetched scenario, medical marijuana was approved in Connecticut and there will need to be "dispensaries," which must pass with town zoning codes, the law states. As it stands, a medical marijuana dispensary could go anyplace a pharmacy could, according to Town Counsel Ira Bloom. If it seems that a marijuana dispensary would be strictly the domain of Connecticut's cities, think again -- last week one was proposed for the Post Road in Fairfield.
Would a marijuana dispensary be anathema to quaint New Canaan? Or would it be, like, totally groovy? Depends on whom you ask.
"At first blush, it does not seem complimentary of our town, or fitting, and I don't think it's something residents would support," said Tucker Murphy, the executive director of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce who also is a member of the Town Council.
Murphy's colleague on the council, John Engel, noted that New Canaan does not traditionally interfere with the free market, and if a business is legal, it ought to be up to the market to decide its fate.
More InformationA glossary of helpful marijuana terms, from leafly.com.
Bud refers to the actual flower bud (and eventual flower) of the marijuana plant. These are the fluffy parts that are harvested and used to medicate as they contain the highest concentrations of active cannabinoids.
Dispensary is a general term used to refer to any location where a patient can legitimately and safely access medication, whether the business is technically an access point, pick-up location. co-op, collective or any other version of a medical cannabis distributor.
You probably know what flowers are; they're often the "pretty" part of a plant, and the same is true for cannabis. While cannabis flowers don't have traditional petals or look like daisies, they are still the reproductive organ of the female plants. Cannabis flowers are the hairy, sticky, crystal-covered bits that are harvested and dried to be used as medication. When they are allowed to be fertilized by male plants, these flowers will produce cannabis seeds. If not, they will continue to produce the resin that contains their active cannabinoids until they are harvested or begin to die.
Hash is short for hashish, which is derived from cannabis plants and can be used to medicate. Hash originated in India along with cannabis plants and has been produced since at least the Bronze Age. Production involves the removal of the plant's trichomes by sieving or filtering. Automatic tumblers can also be used. "Bubble melt" hash is produced using an ice water separation technique. Once the powdery cannabinoid-laden powder has been collected, it is typically pressed and ready to be used. Hash ranges in potency, but is generally stronger than straight flowers since everything but the active part of the plant has been removed. A similar concentrated product can also be produced chemically using a solvent; however, this product is commonly referred to as hash oil or "honey oil."
Hemp is a fibrous product that can be produced from the male cannabis plant and can be used in the manufacture of rope, paper, beauty products and a vast array of other products. Hemp plants have no value as a drug since they are males. However, they are still considered illegal in the United States.
Hydroponics refers to a system of gardening that does not use soil. Plants are grown in water and receive their nutrients from the addition of solutions rather than soil. For growers, hydroponic advantages include more control over nutrient intake and stability. In terms of marijuana production, plants grown hydroponically are sometimes said to have cleaner, more distinct flavors.
Kief is a collected amount of trichomes that have been separated from the rest of the marijuana flower. Trichomes are the sticky crystals that contain the vast majority of the plant's cannabinoids, so kief is pure potency. Kief is sometimes mistakenly referred to as pollen and is the primary ingredient in hashish production.v
Kush refers to a line of cannabis plants that hail from the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kush strains are indicas and have a unique aroma that have given them a large fan base. Specific breeds and plants are unique, but their aroma is generally described as "earthy" and often piney combined with citrus or sweet.
THC is an abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol and is the most well known cannabinoid as well as the one that is the most abundantly available in marijuana plants. It is the component in marijuana that is responsible for the psychoactive effects, or the "high." Also known as delta-9-tetracannabinol, it was first isolated in 1964.and is thought to serve as a natural defense for the plant against pests. Research has shown THC to be an effective medical treatment for a range of conditions. There is no lethal dose of the compound in its natural form.
A vaporizer is a device used to consume marijuana. It heats either flowers or marijuana-infused oils to a temperature that produces a cannabinoid-laced vapor to inhale. Vaporizing is healthier than smoking since there is no smoke to ingest, but this method still produces near instant effects. With new, more compact models on the market, vaporizing is growing in popularity.
Weed is a slang term for marijuana.
"The town hasn't shown much of an appetite for restraint of trade," said Engel, who is a realtor at Brotherhood & Higley. "I believe the market will dictate what New Canaan wants. The kind of stores we don't want won't be successful and won't be a long-term problem, and I consider a pot shop not to be a long-term problem."
Medical marijuana became law in Connecticut in 2012. Only those with a debilitating medical condition and a doctor's prescription will be able to purchase it, and only doctors who have been certified by the state may prescribe it. All the dispensaries, their owners and all pharmacy technicians must be registered with the state. Each dispensary must have one licensed pharmacist on site at all times, according to the legislation.
"The questions that are unanswered right now are: What can P&Z do in terms of regulations to pro-actively to control it?" Bloom told the Planning and Zoning Commission at its meeting Aug. 27. "Can you prohibit it? Simply say, `This will not be allowed in New Canaan?' I don't think there's an answer to that question. It will have to be tried in a court of law. In other states, those cases have gone both ways."
The law was passed to provide relief for those who are in pain and may lack an appetite.
"There are some people who have had cancer, who have had terrible back problems, who could not eat," said Sandra Ross, a psychologist who practiced in town for 20 years, mainly dealing with adolescents. "Under those circumstances, I can't see anything but a blessing. Whether it's in New Canaan or Norwalk, as long as it's accessible medically to the people who need it, I don't care one way or the other. I don't think it would give the town a bad image. Ecstasy is much more of a problem around here. There are drugs around that are far more threatening than medical marijuana."
Interim Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said he thought that a pot store would not be likely a source of illegal activity if doctors prescribe the marijuana appropriately and all rules are followed.
"Our main concern would be people smoking marijuana and driving," he said, adding that intoxication via marijuana can be more difficult to detect in drivers than those who have consumed alcohol, but no less dangerous.
Even if a marijuana dispensary came to New Canaan, it would probably not locate itself on Main or Elm streets, Town Councilman Roger Williams said.
"I think the rents on Elm Street would prohibit such a store from opening there. (It) probably would have to be in a lower-square-footage space," Williams said, adding that he is in principle not opposed to the idea of a store. "I would have an objection to patients using the drug on Elm Street. I wouldn't want people walking around smoking joints. As long as you take them home and administer it there, it's not so different from a liquor store or pharmacy."
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