Winsted commission considers marijuana ordinance | green state
WINSTED – From Connecticut taken steps to legalize the sale and consumption of various types of cannabis, including marijuana, cities like Winsted have examined the impact of welcoming businesses focused on providing these products to their customers, whether they sell them or grow them themselves.
Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission discussed a proposed change to the ordinance earlier this week and had more questions than answers for some of the concerns, such as how growers or manufacturers would be regulated if such a company were to set up in town.
They also tried to figure out the state’s plan to allow marijuana retail stores based on population — one for every 25,000 people — and that cities can receive up to 3% of a store’s sales. to be used for specific community improvements and programs.
Connecticut announced in early January that on February 3, it will open its first 90-day application period for disproportionately affected retailers and growers in the region. Application periods for other license types will open continuously.
The state will also run multiple lotteries on an ongoing basis and announce the number of licenses available before each round. Dispensaries and producers who are already part of the medical program will be exempt from the lottery and will be able to apply for hybrid licenses allowing them to participate in both medical and recreational markets, under the new state law.
Among Winsted’s zoning commissioners this week were new alternate members Charlene Lavoie and Feliks Viner, along with chairman George Closson, vice-chairman Craig Sanden, Peter Marchand, Willard Platt and John Cooney.
Winsted has a zoning ordinance for a marijuana dispensary, and the commission is adding wording for “retail cannabis.” Still River Dispensary on Winsted Road is a medical marijuana supplier, open for three years. There are no retail establishments selling marijuana.
“I’ve been there, and the only thing that’s not in the regulations that I can see is showing in which areas you can do certain things,” Closson said. “I proposed to keep the businesses in the downtown area (Main Street), the gateway to the city (Route 44, Winsted Road) and the industrial/innovation zone (the city’s industrial park) .
“We have potential on our main street, the huge flexibility of what can be done in the gateway to the city (zone) and the innovation zone, in case something comes up with the industrial part (of the cannabis industry), growing it, things like that,” he said.
Lawmakers gave final approval to the bill, “An Act Concerning Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis,” in June 2021, legalizing the sale and cultivation of marijuana for adults over 21. The legislation creates structure for recreational marijuana markets and eliminates criminal convictions for certain marijuana offenses. Adults are allowed to have up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana with them and up to 5 ounces in a locked container in the glove compartment or trunk of their home or car.
Under the bill, cities and towns can prohibit such businesses through local zoning ordinances or restrict the location of retail establishments related to schools, churches and hospitals. Residents can also request a vote on whether a city should allow them.
Zoning enforcement officer Pam Columbia said the city’s existing ordinance does not include growers or manufacturers.
“You can get a license to grow and a license to sell, but if you don’t have a license to transport it, you’re done,” Viner said during the council discussion. “All proposed retail, industrial, and manufacturing uses of cannabis are regulated by the state.”
The commission is also waiting for advice from the Board of Selectmen on the local ordinance. Closson sent a letter this week to City Manager Josh Kelly, asking for input and direction from the selectors.
“We need advice before we start this (process to get the prescription approved),” Closson said. “Before sending it to the Council of Governments and to the State, we must hear them; so far we have not. So for now, we can leave the regulations as they are and make the changes we talked about. Once we have heard from the Board of Selectmen, we will begin the formal process.
Marchand and the rest of the board agreed. “We need the opinion of the coaches, to know what their wishes are,” Marchand said.
“We shouldn’t be at the forefront of this, they should,” Closson said. “I’m sure (the elected officials) are going to have a public hearing to discuss the matter. I don’t see us pushing the cart down the street on this one. We’ll file our cannabis case now and wait.
Closson reminded the commission that while the city collects the 3% local tax payment, the uses of the money are very specific.
“There is an overview of the impact of municipal authorities, which shows how the money can be used,” he said. “Currently it can be used for streetscape improvements where retail is located, youth employment and training programs, services and support (for people moving out prison), mental health and addiction services and community services. There are people who think we can put it on our highways and sidewalks, but we can’t.