Medical marijuana dispensary opens in Westport .

Alternative medicine

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WESTPORT — Those in need of medical marijuana in lower Fairfield County no longer have to travel far.

BluePoint Wellness, a dispensary founded in 2013 with a facility in Branford, opened its newest location on Monday on Post Road East in Westport. The expansion is a joint venture between BluePoint and Advanced Grow Labs, one of the four cultivators in the state for pharmaceutical marijuana products.

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“I felt people in town would be comfortable with someone who’s lived here and still lives here, and has been involved with the medical marijuana business since its inception,” said David Lipton, a lifelong Westporter and CEO of Advanced Grow Labs.

With over 38,000 registered patients in Connecticut and more than 8,300 of them in Fairfield County, Litpon said the new location fulfills a need for those living in the area. Before Westport’s dispensary, patients had to travel as far as Bethel, Branford or Milford for medical marijuana products.

“There’s a much better representation in Fairfield County now for patients,” Lipton said.

BluePoint submitted its application for the dispensary in March 2018 after the state reopened applications for medical marijuana dispensary licenses. What followed was a Planning and Zoning Commission hearing that saw some residents express opposition toward the proposal.

Some voiced concern of a dispensary’s impact on the community, and potentially opening the door for recreational marijuana facilities. Others spoke to the benefits of a local dispensary for those medically in need.

BluePoint’s application was ultimately approved in June.

Only those who qualify under strict conditions laid out by the state are able to access BluePoint and its products. All products are also safety sealed and child resistant.

Patients meet with BluePoint’s pharmacists to review medical records and medication history before treatment goals are created. The dispensary offers oil products, tablets, lotions, honeys and edibles, among other items.

“In order to sell any product — once you produce and grow it — you have it tested by a third party lab and you submit those results to the state before you can sell any product,” Lipton said. “The benefit to patients is you know exactly what you’re getting in your product.”

Nick Tamborrino, co-founder and manager of BluePoint, said the business has seen patients ranging from those with cancer and glaucoma to spinal-chord injuries.

“I was never an advocate for cannabis. I look at this as a medicine and a new career opportunity as a pharmacists,” said Tamborrino, who has 20 years of experience as a pharmacist. “But seeing it firsthand the positive influence and results it has on patients’ lives has been unbelievable.”

He added many patients are looking for chronic pain relief and to get off of traditional prescription medications that can be more addictive.

“More and more providers are looking at it as a legitimate treatment option for patients,” Tamborrino said.

Knowing that many patients may have not used medical marijuana in the past, BluePoint looks to offer products common to everyday life

“What we try to do on the production side is make products that people are more comfortable using,” Lipton said. “Some people like to take honey with their tea, and that can be how they get their medicine.”

Connecticut is the first state where medical marijuana has to be dispensed by certified pharmacists. The highly regulated program makes dispensaries run similar to a CVS Pharmarcy, with products being contained in a vault and handled by pharmacists.

Patients have to register with the state to have a medical marijuana card, and must be registered with BluePoint Wellness specifically to buy their products.

“Patients no longer have to travel to Bethel and Milford to get their medicine,” Tamborrino said. “BluePoint Wellness is here to provide patients of lower Fairfield County alternative treatment options in a safe, professional environment.”

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com