First & only medical marijuana dispensary in New Haven now open for business


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Pharmacists Ray Pantalena and Brian Essenter are cultivating a non-traditional career approach when it comes to patient care.

Pantalena explains, “We can talk to them and we can talk about their underlying conditions. We can talk about a new product, a new way to treat their underlying illnesses where in traditional pharmacy, you’ve got the pills, you’ve got the medicine, this is what it is. Sometimes, we never even got to talk to the patients.”

Affinity Health & Wellness is the first and only medical marijuana dispensary in New Haven. And for those registered in the program, getting inside, is not as easy as it may look.

It’s a secured facility – designated by the state.

“There’s two sets of security doors you have to be buzzed through,” says Pantalena. There are also two separate security systems and several security cameras. The products are stored in a vault.

So far, 31 medical conditions have been approved for a medical marijuana prescription.

Essenter says. “They’re looking typically for help with say their appetite, or some pain or some difficulty sleeping.”

The number of products available – numerous.

“We have your tinctures.” says Essenter, ” We have capsules and tablets and edibles. We have sublingual strips, sublingual sprays. All kinds of different options for the patients to work with. They have different onsets and durations of actions as well, so we really use those to dial in the dosing and how the patients will medicate throughout the day.”

Patient Michael Milano is filling out the necessary forms to switch locations.

He says, “It’s better for me, more convenient. It’s closer to my home. And I have a brain injury. I’m disabled and it’s hard to get around.”

Medical marijuana is not covered by insurance.
Patients can spend as little as $10, but most shell out at least $30.

Affinity Health & Wellness is the 14th to open its doors in the state, but four more dispensaries will soon join that list.


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