BRANFORD >> When Nick Tamborrino moved into his newly expanded medical marijuana dispensary, it came with its own vault for storing the drugs.
Formerly a Santander Bank branch at 471 E. Main St., the space is almost three times larger, at 3,500 square feet, than Bluepoint Wellness of Connecticut’s original location, which was situated behind Planet Fitness next door and opened in September 2014.
“When we started we had about 400 patients,” Tamborrino said. Now the four pharmacists, including Tamborrino, see 2,300 patients, as the number of registered medical marijuana users in Connecticut has grown past 15,000. He’s doubled his staff of pharmacists and has a total staff of 13.
“The patient count has … more than doubled in the state of Connecticut,” Tamborrino said, boosted by the 2016 expansion of the law to allow minors to use medical cannabis. “The patient who was just in here was a pediatric mom,” Tamborrino said.
The number of dispensaries in the state also has increased, from the original six to eight, with a ninth, which has met neighborhood resistance, planned in Milford. Much of the growth has come because “the doctors are looking at medical marijuana as a legit treatment option,” Tamborrino said. “It’s not frowned upon anymore. … We’re seeing hundreds of doctors at this point certifying patients.” As of Friday, 586 doctors have registered to do so.
The vault isn’t the only thing Bluepoint Wellness has in common with the bank that previously inhabited the space. The counter where prescriptions are picked up looks very much like tellers’ windows. Otherwise, Tamborrino has tried to keep the same welcoming feeling at the new location as he had at his first dispensary.
The six dozen varieties and formulations are listed on a board in the lobby. Patients, who are allowed 2.5