The Town Hall land use office has received several phone calls this summer inquiring about the town’s policy on marijuana dispensaries. Turns out, the town doesn’t regulate such dispensaries.
The sudden outside interest led to a discussion at the Plan and Zoning Commission meeting September 8 on whether or not it should institute a moratorium, which would prohibit the town from approving such dispensaries for a limited time until a regulatory framework is in place.
Commission Chairman Jeff Kaufman was not in favor of a moratorium. “I look at it as a pharmacy,” he said. As are pharmacies, a dispensary would be considered a commercial use and limited to the town’s commercial district. Marijuana distribution is tightly regulated as it is, Kaufman said. Only patients with certain diseases can apply for eligibility. They need to show a card in order to obtain the prescribed amount of medical marijuana.
He said there was no reason to keep a potential dispensary away from schools or churches, in the same manner as there is no reason to keep a store or restaurant that sells alcohol away from the teen center. “These dispensaries are controlled by the state.”
Allen Lipson, a member of the zoning commission, wondered how it would impact the dispensary if the state were to loosen its standards for making medical marijuana available, as it happened in Colorado.
In the end, the commission voted 4-3 against a moratorium.
According to the state Department of Consumer Protection website, 11 medical conditions are eligible for relief through cannabis, among them AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Qualified patients are allowed, under state law, to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. A doctor must initiate the registration process.
So far, the state has six dispensaries, located in Hartford, Branford, Bridgeport, South Windsor, Uncasville and Bristol. The State Department of Consumer Protection is currently looking to choose up to three additional locations, possibly with an emphasis on New Haven and Fairfield counties, according to Claudette Carveth, department spokesperson. Almost half of all 5,357 qualified patients in the state live in those two counties, according to the website. The application deadline is September 18.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent