Residents sound off over medical marijuana dispensary in Old Say - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Residents sound off over medical marijuana dispensary in Old Saybrook

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(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)
OLD SAYBROOK, CT (WFSB) -

A local gym could be converted into the state’s next medical marijuana dispensary.

The people behind the medical marijuana facility have their eyes set on Old Saybrook, but some prominent residents are against it.

The site’s proximity to I-95 is what made this so attractive to the dispensary.

It’s an industrial area, right next to the DMV.

While those were supposed to be selling points for the dispensary, the police chief here is saying they aren’t.

Hidden behind the trees on Custom Drive, a Crossfit gym could soon be the state’s next medical marijuana dispensary.

The Planning and Zoning meeting in Old Saybrook was packed as the group behind the facility laid out its plans for what they’re calling “The Botanist.”

“There’s less residential areas, less children around,” said Chris Tolford, head of development for The Botanist.

Dispensary officials say the closest facility is 25 miles away and they expect to draw 25 to 50 patients each day to this cul-de-sac minutes off I-95.

“As we were looking at areas, we were looking at how we can help patients,” said Tolford.

One of the most vocal critics tonight was Old Saybrook Police Chief Michael Spera.

He’s concerned about traffic, the lack of parking, and higher crime rates.

“Forty-seven percent of our DUI have been marijuana-related, rather than alcohol-related,” said Spera.

The dispensary group pushed back. Using towns like South Windsor, Montville, and Branford as examples, they say after talking with police there, no problems were reported.

Spera says he’s seen the drug getting into the wrong hands.

“People that don’t have prescriptions, but have bought their illegal drugs from those who have medical marijuana cards,” Spera said.

Channel 3 wanted to see how a dispensary fit into a town. Channel 3 went to Branford’s Bluepoint Health to see how they operate.

It’s located on East Main Street with a small sign in the window as the only identification, and security cameras are visible.

John Gradzik is a patient there.

“It doesn’t mean you’re getting a joint and smoking it. Each plant is formulated to treat specific ailments,” said Gradzik.

He’s just one of the more than 25,000 patients that have access to medical marijuana in our state.

Brian Tomosulo is also one of them.

“I don’t think lives will change at all. Life will go on. People will use it when they need to, and they don’t have to use it if they don’t need to,” said Tomosulo.

This year, the state will add anywhere between 3 to 10 new dispensaries.

The state will also make the final selection when it comes to locations, but according to local officials, Planning and Zoning can nix it here on the local level before it even goes before the state.

Their decision is expected by June.

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