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Via Newstimes – The Planning and Zoning Commission banned medical marijuana dispensaries and production facilities from town, replacing a two-year moratorium with a more permanent solution.
Officials were debating whether to allow dispensaries since the first moratorium was enacted in October 2013.
But members of the Ridgefield Community Coalition Against Substance Abuse, including First Selectman Rudy Marconi, Police Chief John Roche and the town’s Director of Social Services Tony Phillips, recommended barring the sale of prescription marijuana in town — at least until more research about the effectiveness of medical marijuana is completed.
“I don’t think the science and medicine behind it has been proven in the way most other drugs and treatments have been proven,” Phillips said.
Phillips said as other states grapple with full legalization of marijuana, Ridgefield should sit back and wait.
“There are experiments going on in Colorado and Washington (state), and Washington D.C.,” he said. “They can go in different ways. We don’t know what the short term or long term impact is going to be, so rather than jump in at this early stage, we should wait and get feedback from some of those states.”
Medical marijuana was legalized in Connecticut in 2012 and there are 11 medical conditions that doctors can prescribe marijuana as treatment. The nearest of the state’s six dispensaries is in Bethel, just 20 minutes from downtown Ridgefield — which officials say is close enough.
Marconi said the jury is still out on the benefits of marijuana, which some say is helpful in fighting afflictions such as cancer, Crohn’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder.
He also said when medical marijuana is prescribed, patients are able to select from a variety of strengths of the drug, which is different from how other medicines are prescribed.
“If I went to the doctor’s with a cholesterol issue, does the doctor give me a slip to go to a pharmacist to see what is on the shelf at the pharmacy to help with cholesterol?” Marconi said. “No, they give a prescription for a specific cholesterol medication.
“Why are we giving people with illnesses a permission slip to go into a facility that has a tremendous range of types of marijuana?”
The first selectman also said he was concerned if the state ever legalized pot for recreational use, already in-place medical dispensaries would be able to sell to people without a prescription, and the town could be powerless to stop it.
While there are currently no plans to legalize pot in Connecticut, Marconi said full legalization in Washington and Colorado began with medical marijuana, and warned it could eventually come here because of revenues generated by taxing its sale.
“In our society and in government and the private sector there is a love of the American dollar,” Marconi said. “We shouldn’t let that taint our view for what is best for the people of the state.
“This is an opportunity to really assess if what we’re doing is for the benefit of everyone. It would be a shame to miss that opportunity. Let’s do our homework, do the research and have a lot of debate take place as to where that should go.”