Medical marijuana not yet on local zoning radar

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With medical marijuana now legalized in Connecticut, some towns are eyeing new zoning regulations to limit the locations of medical marijuana dispensaries. The matter is one that has yet to come up locally.

On May 31 a bill was signed into law making medical marijuana legal in the state. As of the first of this month, that law went into effect.

As the possibility grows larger that a dispensary might move in, some municipalities have taken preemptive measures.

Torrington, Southington, Canton, and Middletown have all decided to implement zoning regulations regarding where medical marijuana can be sold.
Southington passed perhaps the toughest zoning regulations on dispensaries: Marijuana dispensaries can’t operate within 1,000 feet from one another; within 750 feet of a church, school, park or residential zone. The regulations there also require a hearing.

The state has said that it expects to allow between three and 10 dispensaries. So, not every municipality has been in a rush to put regulations on the book dealing with the issue.

Keith Rosenfeld, town planner for Naugatuck, said the borough has not considered it yet.

“We haven’t had any calls to do anything about that,” Rosenfeld said.

Prospect’s Land Use Inspector Bill Donovan said that the issue has not come up in yet in Prospect either.

“We haven’t even talked about it,” Donovan said. “If it’s an approved law we would be hard pressed to deny it.”

Donovan explained that the town could opt to do something like it does for the adult entertainment industry. The town has zoning regulations in the books that allow adult stores in a small industrial area.

Beacon Falls First Selectman Gerard Smith said that he had only recently begun to consider regulating dispensaries.

“We haven’t done anything yet because we haven’t thought that far ahead,” Smith said.

He said that he is going to recommend that the town look into regulating what types of businesses can be a medical marijuana dispensary.

Smith pointed out that in California patrons can buy marijuana in many different locations and store fronts.

“The bottom line is that it is a drug, and I don’t think we should be in the drug business anywhere except in a pharmacy,” Smith said.

Even though some municipalities are ready to regulate the dispensaries, those that have waited have not fallen behind. The law established an application process to the state for people who want a prescription, but no system has yet been established to regulate or allow the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana.

The Republican American contributed to this article.