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What is the recreational cannabis venue in Stamford? Officials say it’s not a taboo, but the rules may come

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Stamford – So far, Stamford has played it safe on the lawn. at A sea of ​​cities that have banned or suspended outright In recreational marijuana sales, the state’s second largest city has allowed its existing rules to speak for themselves.

There are no explicit rules governing cannabis in Stamford, and according to Mayor Carolyn Simmons’ office, more rules will come when necessary.

When asked if the Simmons administration plans to take an official stance on dispensaries in the city, Mayor spokeswoman Lauren Meyer said, “State legislation legislates Recreational use and sale of marijuana comprehensive and accurate, and we thank Governor (Ned) Lamont for his leadership in developing this long-awaited and forward-thinking policy.”

“We will continue to assess lessons learned as this type of business grows at Stamford to ensure that economic development does not jeopardize public equity and safety,” she wrote in a statement.

In the absence of other cannabis regulations, state law still paves the way forward. Law passed by Lamont in 2021 It states that – without other regulations – cannabis in a town or city is subject to existing zoning rules.

According to the law, “a cannabis establishment shall be designated as if it were intended for any other similar use, other than a cannabis establishment.” And at a planning board meeting last month, city officials reviewed exactly what that means for Stamford.

at that meeting, Existing medical dispensary, Fine Vettel A dispensary in the research complex in Stamford, he sought permission to become a “hybrid”. According to state law, mixed dispensaries can sell recreational and medical marijuana in the same facility.

City coordinator Veneta Mathur told board members that Stamford’s attorneys and planning staff agreed that the earliest use was medical marijuana.

“If we really have restrictions, that allows us to limit sites, or use itself,” Mathur told board members. “In the absence of that, we need to treat it as the closest similar use.”

“Medical marijuana dispensary use already has limitations in that it is only allowed in very few places and is strictly regulated,” she continued. Local zoning regulations state that medical marijuana dispensaries—and thus recreational dispensaries—can only be opened with special permission from planning and zoning officials.

Medical dispensaries cannot open “within 3,000 feet … than any other dispensary,” and can only be opened in five commercial and industrial zoning areas across Stamford.

Although the planning board unanimously approved Fine Fettle’s request and is scheduled to be heard by the zoning board in the coming weeks, the approval came with extensive debate. Board members were concerned about allowing the sale of recreational cannabis without it being formally written into city regulations.

“I think if we knew at the time that a medical marijuana dispensary would also be allowed to open to the public to sell marijuana, we might not have allowed medical marijuana facilities to be in Stamford,” Planning Council President Theresa Dale said during the meeting.

Fine Vettel already has permission from city officials in Wyndham and Newington to sell recreational cannabis, according to chief operating officer Benjamin Zack. Its three Connecticut dispensaries require state permits to begin selling cannabis to adults 21 and older.

He said obtaining such a license is a complex process. Companies need to provide proof of their business plans and zoning approvals to obtain a license. But in municipalities like Stamford, a license is required to get final zoning approval. Conflicting requirements put operators like Fine Fettle in a complicated situation, especially as they advance through the licensing process.

“What we can do is get all of our stomachs straight, which is what we’re in the midst of doing and we’ve done,” said Zach.

Like the head of the Planning Board, City Representative Jeffrey Stella, D-9, is more skeptical of Stamford’s cannabis place.

Stella has expressed concerns in the past about where people can smoke in Stamford, and in October 2021 he and former City MP JR McMullen – now on the Finance Board – floated rules to ban cannabis smoking on school property. (State cannabis law already prohibits smoking cannabis “in any area of ​​a school building or on such school grounds.” The state also prohibits smoking in restaurants, college dormitories, and hotel rooms, among other places.)

Stella is interested in seeing more concrete cannabis bases in Stamford, particularly when it comes to where people smoke.

“I can tell you,” he said, “if you ever come down to Lion Park, you can smell it.” Stella also cites long-term concerns about crime and people driving under the influence.

A 2021 analysis by the nonprofit Cato Institute found that “violent crime … has neither risen nor fallen in the wake of marijuana legalization” in the 11 states where recreational cannabis use is permitted.

Despite assurances from cannabis entrepreneurs like Zack, who say dispensaries are “incredibly safe across the country,” Stella wants to see more of the public debate about cannabis in Stamford. He warned that Stamford would become a haven for cannabis, while Nearby towns like Greenwich, Darien, and New Canaan have banned them.

Although Fine Fettle is looking to sell adult-use cannabis in Stamford, there are still ways to go before recreational sales begin.

The state Department of Consumer Protection has not yet announced state retailers; The Connecticut Cannabis Information Portal says “recreational sales could begin as late as 2022.”

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