Pot dispensary misses opportunity in Georgetown, will move to Bethel

A medical marijuana dispensary’s plan to move to Georgetown was lost when it did not make the agenda for the Redding Zoning Commission meeting on Wednesday, May 14. However, the applicant, D & B Wellness LLC, Compassionate Care Clinic, did find a home in Bethel. It will be Fairfield County’s first medical marijuana dispensary. 

Aimee Pardee, Redding zoning enforcement officer, said an application was submitted on Thursday, May 8, for a site plan approval because the applicant would be changing the use of the space at 12 Old Mill Road in Georgetown. Ms. Pardee said the application was returned.

Before its vacancy, the building was home to a dance studio.

Angela D’Amico and Karen Barski of D & B Wellness are one of six  to have a license to open a dispensary in the state. Main Street in Bridgeport was the initial location for the dispensary but zoning turned it down. They had until May 16 to find a location or else its state license to distribute medical marijuana expires.

When looking for a new location, Ms. D’Amico said, Georgetown is the central point of Fairfield County.

“Proximity-wise, it’s literally right in the center of the county. It’s easily accessible and pretty rural,” she said. “We’re doing this to heal our county, and unfortunately there is a lot of uneducated issues that come in to play.”

Ms. D’Amico said Bethel town officials came to the consensus that the skepticism in the community shouldn’t be a reason to deny a business approval.

“Stigma has nothing to do with zoning,” she said.

“To quote Steve [Bethel’s town planner], ‘It’s not fair to the process, not fair to the public. If the state determined there is a public need for this and issued a license accordingly — to deny someone access by virtue of my own opinion or the opinion of a few people would really be detrimental to the greater good,’” said Ms. D’Amico.

“Now it’s time to serve our state,” she said. “We’re blessed.”

D & B Wellness will open its clinic on Garella Road, off Route 6 and Interstate 84 in Bethel.

“It’s perfect,” said Ms. D’Amico.

Medicinal benefits

Ms. D’Amico said she and Ms. Barski have spent years researching the medicinal benefits of cannabis and want people to educate themselves.

“For 7,000 years no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose, but every 19 minutes a person dies from an accidental opiate overdose from the purchase of painkillers,” said Ms. D’Amico.

She said she wants to inform the commission about the “amazing” results patients have had with treatment from cannabis.

In the state, it is legal to obtain medical marijuana as an alternative treatment for multiple debilitating and terminal illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, seizure disorder, wasting syndrome, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS/HIV).

Medicinal marijuana that contains more CBD and less THC allows the patient to have pain relief without the sensation of being high, said Ms. D’Amico.

“There are no psychoactive effects,” she said. “There’s no high effect, just the effect of canniboid.”

“If it were by any other name, people would be clawing at the doors for us to open,” said Ms. D’Amico. “What we’re prescribing doesn’t have the psychoactive effect like the recreational kind. The average person doesn’t know that.”

Medicinal cannabis doesn’t have to be smoked. It comes in the form of capsules, creams, food, oils, and drops.

D & B Wellness would be more than a medical marijuana dispensary, she said. The clinic would offer other holistic measures for patients.

“Our focus will be not only on dispensing medicinal cannabis products but also providing our clients with the added benefit of alternative modalities such as Reiki, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, yoga, education, and guided meditation — all of which are highly useful in the lives of those with debilitating illnesses, creating a true ‘wellness-center’ which will be ready to serve an encompassing set of patients’ needs and provide a maximum communal benefit,” according to the D & B Wellness website, ccc-ct.com.

Ms. Barski is also a Reiki master, said Ms. D’Amico.

“The stigma of marijuana is not what we’re selling and prescribing. We’re healers. We’re hoping Redding takes this for what it is,” she said.

As far as security and safety is concerned, Ms. D’Amico said they would have an “ironclad security system.”

When comparing medicinal cannabis to prescription drugs like OxyContin, Ms. D’Amico said those drugs are stored at local pharmacies.

“You don’t have your local CVS broken into every day,” she said.

She also linked the influx in heroin use to people’s addiction to opiates. When people are prescribed OxyContin they also have to have an exit strategy, she said.

As research continues, Ms. D’Amico said, she hopes more cannabis is prescribed and not opiates.

“Give us a chance,” she said. “This is my pay-it-forward. This is what I want my legacy to be, to be able to heal through natural, holistic remedy and not have an addiction.”

Her hope for the future, she said, is that more illnesses will be added to the list that are acceptable to treat with cannabis.

She also said they will put a portion of the proceeds toward rehabilitation centers. They will also offer free medication to terminally ill patients who can’t afford it.

“This is my second calling in life,” said Ms. D’Amico.