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Q&A on Medical Marijuana in Westport

(Editor’s Note: Because of questions and concerns about the possibility of medical marijuana dispensaries coming to Westport, WestportNow offers the following Q&A to help clarify the issue.)

By James Lomuscio

Q: How many medical marijuana facilities are there in Connecticut?

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In March, a large crowd was on hand for a P&Z meeting and discussion of medical marijuana dispensaries. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

A: There are currently nine serving an estimated 26,000 patients with state authorized medical marijuana cards in Connecticut. The dispensaries are located in: Bethel, Branford, Bristol, Hartford, Milford, New London, South Windsor, Uncasville and Waterbury.

Q: Why are operators of medical marijuana dispensaries interested in Westport?

A: The P&Z on June 1, 2017 passed its own text amendment 735, which allows no more than two medical marijuana dispensaries in town. The decision came after a P&Z committee spent two years holding sparsely attended public hearings. The rationale for the amendment was that if the P&Z did not pass the regulation, the state could force such dispensaries on the town. The reason for two dispensaries was to minimize price fixing.

Drug-Price Transparency Bill Passes Legislature With No Dissent

By Mackenzie Rigg

www.ctmirror.org

A bill designed to help Connecticut officials peer into the black box of drug pricing won final approval from a unanimous state Senate early today.

Proponents of the measure called it a necessary first step toward curbing expensive prescription drug prices.

Approval also was unanimous in the House on Friday, and the bill now heads to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s desk.

“One of the issues that we hear time and time again in the insurance committee is the cost of health care,” said Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, Senate Republican chair of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, during debate on the bill. “One of the biggest drivers of cost is the prescription health pricing.”

Comings & Goings: Concussion Specialist Relocates

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Westport physician Audrey Paul, formerly practicing at 25 Imperial Ave., has relocated to 181 Post Road West, Nash’s Plaza, where she continues her specialty in the diagnosis and management with advanced concussion solutions. She recently announced formation of a concussion research study with local middle and high school students. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

New Report Ranks Fairfield County Air as Among Most Polluted

Westporters, the air you breathe is among the worst in the country and puts residents at risk for premature death.

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That’s the conclusion of the American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of the Air” report released today.

It found Connecticut’s air quality ranked among the worst of any area east of the Mississippi River.

Fairfield County, where ozone is measured at Westport’s Sherwood Island State Park among other places, ranked as the 19th most ozone-polluted county in the country.

Medical Marijuana’s ‘Catch-22’: Federal Limits on Research

By Marisa Taylor and Melissa Bailey

Kaiser Health News via www.ctmirror.org

By the time Ann Marie Owen turned to marijuana to treat her pain, she was struggling to walk and talk. She also hallucinated.

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A demonstration outside the State Capitol in support of medical marijuana. CTMirror.org photo

For four years, her doctor prescribed the 61-year-old a wide range of opioids for her transverse myelitis, a debilitating disease that caused pain, muscle weakness and paralysis.

The drugs not only failed to ease her symptoms, they hooked her.

When her home state of New York legalized marijuana for the treatment of select medical ailments, Owen decided it was time to swap pills for pot. But her doctors refused to help.

Talk Focuses on Substance Abuse and Teen Brain Development

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The auditorium at Bedford Middle School was the scene tonight of a presentation by Ruth Potee, an addiction and adolescent and brain development expert, who discussed substance abuse and teen brain development. She said genetics, early exposure to substances during brain development, and a history of childhood trauma are all risk factors. She spoke of the long-term impact of marijuana on the adolescent brain and how opioid use has developed into an epidemic throughout the United States. Potee is a board certified family physician and addiction medicine physician at Valley Medical Group in Greenfield, Massachusetts. The event was sponsored by the Department of Human Services’ Positive Youth Development Initiative, in partnership with the Westport Prevention Coalition. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Legislature Overrides Malloy Veto, Delaying a Budget Cut

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

With little debate or fanfare, the General Assembly voted today to override Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s veto of a bill that delays cuts in a Medicare assistance program until July, quieting a public outcry over tighter eligibility standards.

By votes of 131 to 4 in the House and 30 to 1 in the Senate, legislators delivered on a promise to fully fund a program that uses Medicaid funds to help poor elderly and disabled patients pay for health care costs that Medicare does not cover.

New eligibility limits for the Medicare Savings Program that lawmakers wrote into the state budget were projected to save $54 million this fiscal year and about $130 million in 2018-19. The override vote delays the imposition of the new limits until July 1.

Unless the legislature makes further changes in the eligibility standards in the 2018 session that opens next week, lawmakers could face another outcry over the program this summer, as legislators turn to their campaigns for re-election.

General Assembly Reverses Cuts to Medicare Program

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

The General Assembly today voted overwhelmingly to reverse health care program cuts affecting as many as 113,000 seniors and the disabled.

The House of Representatives voted 130-3 to adopt the measure in late morning, and the Senate passed it 32-1 early in the afternoon.

But Gov. Dannel P. Malloy — who has pledged to veto the measure — and others insist that the means used to restore $54 million to the Medicare Savings Program worsened the already deficit-plagued state budget.

“We need to make sure, particularly with the little amount of money that we have — with the financial problems that we have in this state — that we take care of people who need our help the most,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said shortly after House session.

Into the Cryotherapy Chamber

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Restore Cryo, a cryotherapy-based whole body recovery salon, opens Tuesday at 877 Post Road East, in the 2,500-square feet space formerly occupied by Radio Shack. Principal owner David Kass, a Westport resident, said, “The therapy increases the body’s metabolism naturally to create a safe, sustainable caloric expenditure of up to 800 calories over the following eight hours after a three-minute session in the cryotherapy chamber.” Westport resident Lisa Rowan, a Restore Cryo staff member, is pictured experiencing a treatment in the chamber. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Selectman Candidates Vow Commitment to Environment

By James Lomuscio

The topic was the environment; the questions were fast paced and pointed as the four candidates for Westport first selectman and two for second selectman squared off at Earthplace tonight.

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David Mann (l), who heads the Westport Green Task Force, served as moderator. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

David Mann, who heads the Green Task Force, did not pull any punches as he asked each if he or she would favor banning plastic bottles in town, if they watered their lawns, or if they would prohibit fracking waste from coming through Westport, among other topics.

Mann also kept all of the candidates on a strict time clock, cutting them off mid-sentence as he moved to the next candidate.

Before a standing room only crowd of mostly high school students, the six candidates – incumbent Republican First Selectman Jim Marpe and his running mate Jennifer Tooker, Democratic challenger Melissa Kane and her second selectman running mate Rob Simmelkjaer, Independent John Suggs and unaffiliated candidate Timothy J. Elgin – had their green mettle tested.