Cannabis dispensary opening in Bridgeport this fall

Bridgeport's first cannabis dispensary is expected to open this fall.
Rino Farrarese and Ray Pantalena gave News 12 Connecticut on Sunday an exclusive look at the dispensary.
The site, which is under construction, is located on 2000 Commerce Drive. It is about a 30-second drive from I-95 with a brand-new parking lot. The dispensary will share the same building as a Goodwill and the Church of Christ Bridgeport.
Farrarese and Pantalena are the co-owners of Affinity Dispensary. They walked a News 12 Connecticut crew on the business that will offer both medical and adult-use cannabis.
The Bridgeport Zoning Commission gave the men the green light to legally sell their products.
Products will be kept in the dispensary's concrete and steel cannabis vault, as the state mandates.
Farrarese and Pantalena said the place will create 50 new jobs. They added that they are committed to supporting local nonprofits and initiatives that move Bridgeport forward and upward. Both said the dispensary will have security inside and outside 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"Nobody can enter the dispensary unless they go through a security check and they verify their age of being 21 years or older," Pantalena said.
News 12 Connecticut also sat down with Bridgeport stakeholders who met with Farrarese and Pantalena to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
"We're super excited to come down to Bridgeport. We've been operating a hybrid dispensary in New Haven," Pantalena said.
"I was born and raised in Bridgeport, went to Bridgeport public schools and I'm pleased to be back here in Bridgeport, bringing a business with an opportunity to re-invest in the community," Farrarese said.
Both said, because their dispensary will be the biggest in Connecticut, that re-investment will be on a very big scale.
"A lot of times we have investors come into our community and they don't keep their word. So meeting with Ray and Rino has been an unusual experience because they have really done what they said they are going to do," said Debbie Simms, of East End NRZ.
"We're excited about the fact that this is a business that is committed to the community with a co-owner who is from Bridgeport, born and raised, and another owner who understands urban communities and environments and how to engage and interact with them," said Kirk Wesley.
"There will not be neon lights, there will not be advertisements of marijuana leaves all over the building and telling anyone and everyone to come in," said Dr. Vanessa Liles, of West Side/West End NRZ.
"The opportunity to give back to the community, we're very excited about it. We're one of only two non-state operators. We are Connecticut-owned and -operated and we're very happy to Bridgeport," Pantalena said.
As to whether the business will succeed, supporters said with the sale of cannabis in Connecticut more popular than ever, that is a pretty safe bet.
The business is set to open in December.