Editorial: No needless delays

While years progress, so too do the collective views of society. As was proved by the Connecticut legislature’s 2012 vote approving the use of medical marijuana, the state’s population feels the distribution of this prescription medicine is a safe and compassionate step to take.

Last week, the Wilton Planning & Zoning Commission voted to place an up-to-one-year moratorium on the acceptance of zoning applications for medical marijuana facilities.

While it is fair for Wilton to move cautiously toward the regulation of these new and untested businesses, town officials should proceed as speedily as possible toward new zoning standards.

With more and more surrounding towns adopting similar moratoriums, including Ridgefield and Westport, access to medical marijuana for legitimate patients could grow increasingly restrictive in Fairfield County. All Connecticut towns placing moratoriums on medical marijuana are right in moving to protect the strict zoning requirements of their business districts in the same manner they have restricted the placement of liquor stores. However, those making that decision should also take patients’ right to access into account, and deliver fair zoning regulations as soon as possible, ideally, before their 12-month deadline.

Granted, the use of medical marijuana is a controversial issue, but this is not recreational usage. It is important to remember that those who qualify for the drug are people — many of whom are our friends and family — who suffer from one of 11 serious medical conditions, with cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, and multiple sclerosis among the list.

In this country we have looked more at the harm marijuana can do than at its benefits as a medicine. In other countries, such as Israel, it is part of the medical culture.

American Cancer Society documentation indicates that two recent studies have shown that “cannabinoids are useful for improving appetite in patients with AIDS,” and that MS patients “generally reported less severe problems with muscle spasms” after ingesting medical marijuana.

In quickly and responsibly writing regulations for medical marijuana facilities, Wilton is not holding its doors open to recreational drug users looking to get a legal fix, it is opening its arms to its neighbors for whom marijuana provides medically substantiated relief.

Moving quickly on this municipal question is the fair, and compassionate, thing to do.