Company: Compassionate Care Center
Location: Bethel, Connecticut
Owner: Angela D’Amico
BETHEL, Conn. — A decade ago, Angela D’Amico was more than a little skeptical when her son wrote a report for a high school class about how cannabis could benefit those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
At the time, D’Amico’s mother was living with Alzheimer’s, and while she found the idea of prescribing cannabis to her mother amusing, her son’s report compelled her to learn more about the plant’s healing properties. On her next trip to California, D’Amico obtained her medical card and began research that would lead her to open Compassionate Care Center of Connecticut.
D’Amico founded the dispensary in September 2014, incorporating ideas from the cannabis-friendly West Coast into Connecticut’s more stringent system.
“We set it up like a storefront, just like you would see in California, Oregon or Washington,” D’Amico said. However, all the flower, edibles, oils and infused products have to stay in opaque, child-proof containers behind the sales counter.
Connecticut also has specific rules about the relationships between patients and their caregivers. Patients must designate which dispensary they will be using when they register for their medical card. Patients can change their preferred dispensary up to four times a year.
The state observes cannabis as a Schedule II narcotic, meaning each dispensary must have a licensed pharmacist on the sales floor at all times, and only licensed pharmacists are allowed to distribute cannabis products.
“They work as doctors,” D’Amico said of the medical marijuana pharmacists. “Really, when you think of what a pharmacist does at Walgreens, they don’t have much interaction with patients. But here, they actually get to work with patients and see the successes of what this great medicine is doing for them.”
Now serving roughly 3,000 registered patients in Connecticut, D’Amico said the Compassionate Care Center has seen miracles happen.
“We’ve helped over 400 patients get off of opiates,” D’Amico said. “We pride ourselves on that.”
Compassionate Care Center resides in an unassuming building behind a row of green mailboxes and a neatly manicured lawn; it looks more like a suburban church than a dispensary. D’Amico designed the interior of the building to resemble a spa. The light blue walls and floral paintings go well with the dispensary’s massages, yoga classes and guided meditations. D’Amico has always maintained an approach of treating mind, body and spirit.
“I think it’s important. When you’re fighting cancer, you’re stressed,” she said. “That’s counteractive. If you’re stressed, your immune system goes down. We also do nutritional counseling, especially for our cancer patients.”