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Waterford says no to recreational marijuana sales as others towns approve

A town commission voted Tuesday to not allow recreational marijuana sales or production. Many other communities voted on it in the November election.

WATERFORD, Conn. — The Waterford Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana and production in the town.

The 4-0 vote follows last week’s election where three other municipalities let the voters decide. In Waterbury, voters approved the sale in the city but turned down production. The decision to allow sales was passed by a 416-vote margin. 9,691 people voted against the production in Waterbury, only 66 more votes than for it.

“Voters passed the referendum by only a few hundred votes; it was close, but voters have spoken,” Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary said in a statement to FOX61. “We will work closely with Planning and Zoning to ensure that facilities are located in suitable areas.”

RELATED: Legal marijuana was on the ballot in 5 states. Here's how they voted.

In Ledyard, more people voted to allow recreational marijuana sales than to not. Over in Litchfield County, it was the opposite with more people voting against sales in Litchfield.

Credit: FOX61
Recreational adult-use marijuana became legal in Connecticut in July 2021.

Ledyard Mayor Fred Allyn III encouraged voters in the town to vote no on recreational marijuana sales.

“Ahead of the vote, we had an awareness campaign as to the specific allowable uses of the tax revenues if sales were permitted, as well as experiences other states have had with the passage of recreational marijuana laws, specifically Colorado which appears to be struggling with the issue,” he said. “Many who shared their opinions with me said my position was short-sighted as passage allows for a diversified tax structure. I felt the social/mental health costs far outweigh any positive financial gain we may perceive. I find it incredibly ironic that one of the permitted uses of the tax proceeds as stated is for “…addiction services.” It would appear to imply that those that wrote the law acknowledge that marijuana is in fact addictive.”

Waterford Commission Chairman Greg Massad said the vote was appropriate to do instead of rushing to approve a regulation before their year-long moratorium expired.

Credit: FOX61
Waterford Town Hall.

Adult-use marijuana began legally in Connecticut in July 2021. However, no shops have opened yet to sell to those 21 and over. Kaitlyn Krasselt with the Department of Consumer Protection, the regulatory body for the existing medical marijuana industry and soon recreational marijuana industry, said shops may open within the next couple of months.

“We have worked hard to make licenses available and go through the application processes and all sorts of tasks that need to be completed in order for adult use sales to begin in Connecticut,” she said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to make sure that we are safely setting up a well-regulated industry.”

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Applications for shops opened in February. Part of the licensing process requires zoning approval from the town or city in which the business is looking to set up. Many communities have prohibited the sale. It includes Avon, Clinton, Groton, Middlefield, New Canaan, Prospect, Southington, Westport, and Woodbury.

On the other hand, many have approved the sale including Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bristol, Canton, Columbia, Enfield, Manchester, North Stonington, Torrington, and Windham. The full list can be found here.

“It was really important to the Legislature to ensure that communities in Connecticut had a say in whether or not cannabis businesses were located in their communities,” Krasselt said.

Credit: FOX61
Connecticut made recreational adult-use marijuana legal in 2021.

RELATED: No, President Biden didn’t legalize marijuana nationwide

Municipalities that vote against sales can revisit zoning laws if they change their mind. Some areas may already have cannabis zoning laws established if they participate in medical marijuana sales, which became law in 2012.

“Our law takes into consideration a lot of social equity priorities and goals, and that’s been a big part of the licensure process,” the communications director said.

Angelo Bavaro is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at abavaro@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


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