Dec. 23 is hardly the optimal date to open a new business.
But for Nick Tamborrino, co-founder of medical marijuana dispensary BluePoint Wellness, the fact that his operation at 1460 Post Road East in Westport had finally cleared all the hurdles meant the time was as good as any.
“We opened on that Monday and then there was the holiday,” Tamborrino explained. “We’re getting patients registered one at a time, but so far we’ve been getting great feedback.”
The 4,100-square-foot facility occupies the former site of Coco Spa and is only the second such operation in Fairfield County, joining Compassionate Care Center of Connecticut in Bethel, which opened in 2014.
Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission passed limited regulations in 2017 allowing up to two medical marijuana dispensaries in the town, after imposing a 2013 moratorium on accepting applications or approving permits for such facilities. Dispensaries in the town are required to be more than 1,000 feet from schools, day-care facilities, parks, public buildings and houses of worship.
BluePoint’s application was accepted in June 2018, with the town’s P&Z denying four other medical marijuana dispensary applications, for 833, 1803 and 1505 Post Road East and 345 Post Road West, citing concerns about traffic and safety as well as the size of the proposed locations.
The company then had to obtain a license from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, which regulates all medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. In December 2018 that license was granted, along with eight others, including one for Arrow Alternative Care in Stamford, which expects to open in January at 814 East Main St.
Tamborrino established BluePoint Wellness of Connecticut in 2014 — its other facility is in Branford — following several years working as a pharmacist at Saint Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.
“In 2013, when Connecticut approved regulations for its medical marijuana program I was intrigued,” he recalled. “I viewed it as a new occupational path for pharmacists and as I did more and more research, it drew me in. Now I’m seeing the benefits firsthand.”
Tamborrino is also vice president of the Academy of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, an affiliate of the Connecticut Pharmacists Association, which represents all state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries.
BluePoint was a part of Advanced Grow Labs (AGL), one of only four companies in Connecticut licensed to grow and process cannabis. In addition to its 46% stake in BluePoint, it operated a 41,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in West Haven. In January 2019, AGL was acquired by national cannabis consumer packaged goods company Green Thumb Industries (GTI) in a deal valued at $80 million.
AGL CEO and BluePoint co-founder David Lipton remains with the company — and, as Tamborrino noted, is a lifelong Westporter.
Products include a variety of concentrates, topicals and transdermals, tinctures, medibles, capsules and tablets, as well as a number of accessories (vaporizers, pipes, papers and the like).
The Westport operation employs 10 people. Tamborrino said there is room to expand as demand grows.
As of Dec. 22 there were 38,421 registered medical marijuana patients in Connecticut with 8,362 of those in Fairfield County.
Tamborrino declined to speculate on whether BluePoint would add recreational marijuana, should the state approve its sale. While the question has arisen in the General Assembly during the past couple of years, it has yet to come up for a formal vote. Gov. Ned Lamont and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have indicated they plan to ask their state legislatures to legalize recreational marijuana in 2020.