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Monday, March 19 News

Fairfield-based medical pot business allowed to keep license

Fairfield-based Advanced Grow Labs LLC will keep its license to produce medical marijuana, Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said Friday after an investigation into its former chief grower, whose operation in Colorado was closed down in 2012.

Rubenstein said the company can remain one of the four statewide producers because his agency is satisfied that other Advanced Grow Labs officials were unaware of the grower's past and his efforts to cover up his record.

"We came to the conclusion that we are not going to take action with regard to Advanced Grow Labs' license," Rubenstein said in an interview.

In a letter to the company released Friday afternoon, Rubenstein said his office is convinced that the Advanced Grow Labs' team performed due diligence in researching the background of John J. Czarkowski.

The company's license was in jeopardy following reports earlier in the week that Czarkowski, the co-owner with his wife of a production and dispensary facility in Boulder, had his local license revoked for 15 violations that led to its closure, including improper security and storage of marijuana.

He resigned from the Fairfield business Wednesday.

David Lipton, Advanced Grow Labs' managing partner, said Friday that he was relieved and happy.

"There's a lesson to be learned here," he said in a phone interview, stressing that his group had been unaware of Czarkowski's Boulder troubles. "Any group has to be so careful with anyone you pick and must perform every kind of background search possible. We did an exhaustive search on Jay Czarkowski. We are committed to working with Consumer Protection on being a good producer of medicine-delivery methods."

The company is now looking for another grower to run its operation in a former West Haven manufacturing building that is being converted into a secure grow facility.

The four grow facilities are expected to provide medical-grade cannabis by the summertime. The dispensary licenses will be announced within the next few weeks.

Ken Dixon|State Capitol reporter/columnist Hearst Connecticut Media