Commission extends ban on medical marijuana facilities
Update: Trumbull’s Planning and Zoning Commission will extend a temporary ban on medical marijuana facilities in town by six months. The commission agreed to extend the moratorium at its Wednesday night meeting.
The initial moratorium was four months long — which was a compromise reached between members of the commission in October. The six months will allow the planning staff to draft regulations, and those regulations will then go to a public hearing.
Commissioner Fred Garrity Jr. was one of the commissioners who believed the moratorium could prevent a economic opportunity for the town.
Garrity noted that the state already awarded permits in January four medical marijuana producers. Unless the state decides to award more permits for production facilities, the only application that would potentially come before the commission in six months would be for a medical marijuana dispensary.
“I’m disappointed that Trumbull may have lost an opportunity for economic development, though it was a small opportunity,” Garrity said.
If an application comes forward in the future, the commission will weigh whether it is right for the town, he said.
"We will work to make the best decisions for Trumbull, though sometimes there are two different opinions on what is the best decision," Garrity said.
First Selectman Timothy Herbst spoke out recently against medical marijuana facilities in Trumbull (see original story below).
Original story: As the Planning and Zoning Commission’s four-month ban on medical marijuana facilities in town runs out, First Selectman Timothy Herbst is urging the commission to extend the moratorium.
“I’m not opposed to someone with a debilitating illness using medical marijuana,” Herbst said. “But there are more appropriate places for these facilities to be located so people can use these services.”
Extending the temporary ban was up for discussion and a vote at tonight's Planning and Zoning Commission, 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.
In October, the commission considered a yearlong ban, recommended by the town planner and town attorneys, in order to create regulations for the town around potential medical marijuana development. Commissioners Fred Garrity Jr. and Tony Silber, both Democrats, supported a shorter moratorium, citing potential economic opportunities. (See original story here)
“All of a sudden every town thinks we need to reinvent the wheel and protect ourselves from this,” Garrity said at the time. “It’s almost like ‘Reefer Madness’ all over again.”
The commission eventually compromised on a four-month moratorium that expires in March.
However, Herbst, planning staff and town attorneys have urged the commission to implement a more expansive moratorium, to allow more time for proper regulations to be put in place.
Herbst said he doesn’t think there is an appropriate area of town for a medical marijuana facility, and isn’t sure that type of development fits in with the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.
Silber said this week that he supports the town taking its time in developing regulations and he is fine with a longer moratorium.
“I objected — and still object — to the demagoguery around this issue,” Silber said. “We need to remember that this is a medicinal product. We’re talking about providing relief for terribly ill people, some of them terminal. That’s it.”
Silber said the first selectman appeared to dismiss that point in the last meeting.
“First Selectman Herbst asked at the last meeting whether we were going to allow marijuana dispensaries and manufacturing in residential areas,” Silber said. “He asked if we were going to locate them next to schools. This is hysteria. This is demagoguery. The short answer is no. Period.”
Silber also argued that the town has zoning regulations in place for managing pharmaceutical and other medical transactions that could be used as a guide.
Herbst said that many residents would not support this kind of development.
“I don’t think they have a pulse on their constituency,” Herbst said of Democratic commissioners. “I don’t think people in Trumbull want this in their town.”
Last month, the state chose four producers of medical marijuana, located in West Haven, Portland, Simsbury, and Watertown.
For an update on Wednesday’s meeting, visit TrumbullTimes.com and see next week’s paper.