FAIRFIELD – You might not be able to buy weed in Fairfield – at least not legally and at least not for another year – as the Town Plan and Zoning Commission gets ready to vote on a one-year moratorium on cannabis establishments in town.
The commission had a public hearing Tuesday night on the regulation amendment, which would prohibit cannabis establishments in town until Feb. 28 of 2023. The vote on the amendment will likely be at the commission’s Feb. 8 meeting, officials said.
Some members of the public were not thrilled at the idea of such establishments in town and supported the moratorium.
Tom Hennessey, a member of Fairfield CARES, said the organization is “pretty much against this whole cannabis thing.”
“We have three, four months to get ahead of this,” he said.
Planning Director Jim Wendt said the regulation amendment would prohibit all cannabis establishments for a period of one year unless extended. Retail sales of cannabis products starts being allowed in May of this year, he said, and the state law legalizing them requires towns to make a decision on how to regulate it.
Wendt said the majority of municipalities who have made rulings on permitting cannabis establishments so far have opted to go the moratorium route. He said 59 municipalities have reported their regulatory status to the state, with nine voting to allow establishments, 14 prohibiting them altogether and 36 setting a moratorium.
“In the absence of taking a position to either define which types of uses are to be regulated and where, or prohibition, then, come May of this year, the ‘presumed to be zoned as if any other similar use,”‘ Wendt said, quoting the law. “Presumably, retail sale of cannabis would be considered akin to any other retail sale.”
Gov. Ned Lamont signed the bill that legalized the possession and use of marijuana for adults last June. Retail sales in Connecticut are targeted to begin at the end of 2022.
The state Department of Consumer Protection, which is administering the rollout of recreational cannabis, is instead working to establish the taxable retail market to begin later this year. The law allows those 21 and over to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis, and up to 5 ounces in their homes or locked in their car trunks or glove compartments.
Commissioner Kathryn Braun said the commission, which discussed the upcoming decision last fall, agreed that it was best to do a moratorium until the state finishes considering licensing provisions. She said it would allow the commission to become better educated on exactly what it would or would not want.
Fairfield CARES Program Director and Coalition Coordinator Cathy Hazlett said the coalition was established in 2009 with the goal of preventing substance use for underage people. She said the coalition is drafting a policy statement, which it will share at a later time, and fully supports the moratorium.
“It could give you more, and give the state more time, to think through the regulations,” she said.