Marijuana Zoning Comes To The Table In Old Saybrook



By Eric O’Connell / • 10/8/2021 2:20 PM EST

The Old Saybrook (ZC) Zoning Commission will make a decision on the regulation of retail marijuana once the commission receives more feedback from stakeholders. However, there is no timeline for this decision to be made.

Last month, Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill legalizing the state’s recreational use of marijuana by adults. Now it is up to local municipalities to interpret the regulations that will be promulgated to control its sale.

Any regulations relating to the sale of marijuana at Old Saybrook are likely to be controversial. While there is a contingent that will be worried if not outright opposed to any regulations that would allow a retail marijuana store to open, there are also people who are in favor of allowing the sale in town. .

Supporters of allowing the sale in the city argue that the substance is less harmful than other already legal substances, that it could have economic benefits and that it could arguably be safer to have a store than to rely on resellers.

Under the bill passed by the legislature, there can only be one outlet for marijuana per 25,000 people. This means that only one store could open in Old Saybrook. Additionally, it would be possible for the ZC to allow a retail marijuana store to open and set parameters on any business that requires a certain distance between the retail store and churches or schools.

While the timeline is not urgent, the city will likely establish regulations for the commercial sale of marijuana over the next nine months.

On July 19, Heather McNeil from the city’s Department of Youth and Family Services attended the ZC Virtual Meeting to share some points she had on any upcoming regulations that would govern the retail sale of marijuana in Old Saybrook.

McNeil shared a slideshow with the commission that outlined some of his thoughts. McNeil asked the commission if it was possible for the commission or the city to pass an ordinance that restricted things like the types of products allowed, advertising, increased health warnings and smoke-free zones. McNeil pointed out that many of these restrictions were in place for tobacco products, but not for marijuana products.

“I think it’s wise to come out in front of this,†McNeil said.

McNeil said the department is not responsible for telling adults what they can and cannot do on their own, but she said she was concerned about the potency of the products on the brain still in the process. development of the city’s youth, especially if retail stores are permitted within walking distance of schools.

“Our main focus is drug prevention education,†McNeil said.

Citing a statement from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention that cannabis exposure is increasing in areas where marijuana has been legalized, McNeil pointed out that consuming THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active ingredient in cannabis) can have consequences. negative on health, especially if accidentally consumed by adolescents and young people. The same statement also notes that even extreme doses of THC are unlikely to result in death.

Also speaking with McNeil, Marines Rodriguez, a representative of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), an organization that opposes the legalization and commercialization of the sale of marijuana. Rodriguez said that unlike alcoholic products, which list the amount of alcohol by volume in each product, the same is not true for cannabis products and research shows that the amount of THC in products with marijuana base has increased over the past decade.

According to McNeil, SAM has heard from lawmakers in states that have already legalized marijuana and who regret not putting stricter guidelines on the bills.

ZC access path

After McNeil’s presentation, ZC President Robert Friedmann said, “It is not a choice to step in and be the arbiter of marijuana reform.

Friedman said some of the ideas McNeil had in his presentation, such as limiting advertising and guidelines on potency of products, were outside the ZC’s purview, so it couldn’t help. .

Friedman said there was a possibility that affected citizens could file a petition related to the sale of marijuana in town and that if 10 percent of registered voters in town signed it, it would force the town to hold a referendum and potentially to pass an ordinance. McNeil said she spoke to city officials about the possibility of making a prescription.

Friedman said the ZC had plenty of time before a decision was made. A marijuana retail store would not be licensed in town until May 2022.

“I’m waiting to see if there is a referendum and if we have voter councils,” Friedman said.

Friedman said the ZC will seek more information and input from other departments and boards before the ZC initiates any regulations relating to the retail sale of marijuana.


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