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Connecticut towns grapple with how to handle coming cannabis business

Some towns plan to ban growers and dispensaries, others are preparing to welcome them.

WATERBURY, Conn. — As of July 1, possessing small amounts of recreational marijuana is legal in Connecticut, but the framework for what the industry might look like in local cities and towns is still getting set up. Local governments are discussing whether or not they should allow pot shops within city limits.

Waterbury’s city planner is recommending the zoning commission make a temporary moratorium on accepting new applications for pot shops for one year to give time for them to review their options, according to a special meeting agenda.

People FOX61 spoke with around town have mixed opinions.

“I’m for it because at least it’s being controlled compared to being illegal,” said Joey Apostadero who is visiting town. “No matter what, people will get it regardless. Even if they have to go to a different state to get it. They will get it when they want it. But the thing is, at least you will get it in your local area, put money in the state, at the same token, it’s being controlled.”

“I believe in one way, they should wait and try to find out more information to see what’s going on,” Maria Olivencia from Waterbury said.

Others FOX61 spoke with have some safety concerns.

“Gotta be just like alcohol. When you drink alcohol, you get behind the wheel, you lose control, maybe it’s the same thing with marijuana,” Freddy Reyes said.

Over in West Hartford, Town Councilmember Mary Fay also has some concerns.

“I just want to make sure we’re really looking at this much more than just let’s pass it, it’s all good, we’re going to get some money. I think there’s really some health aspects.”

West Hartford’s town manager is studying the topic and will make recommendations on how the town should regulate the adult use and sales of marijuana.

As for how it will take before adults can buy pot in Connecticut, West Hartford Corporation Counsel Dallas Dodge said “there will be a lengthy regulatory process at the state level to create a licensing program for the cultivation and sale of marijuana. I expect that will probably take several months, possibly as long as a year and so I don’t expect for recreational sales to begin until 2022."

Some towns are choosing to ban or temporarily ban pot sales already, including Prospect, Wallingford, and Newtown. But others are open to the idea, including Middletown whose mayor tells us the planning and zoning commission will be hearing a proposal to allow retail and cultivation in town. Waterbury is set to hold a public hearing on the topic next week.


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