WINSTED – In February, residents will be asked to weigh in on the state’s marijuana regulations for retail businesses and public use.
The Board of Selectmen scheduled a public forum for Feb. 7 at 7 p.m., during its regular meeting. The forum was suggested during a discussion on the changing cannabis laws and regulations for marijuana sales in Connecticut, which were first introduced last summer and allow adults to be in possession of small quantities of marijuana.
Since Connecticut took steps to legalize the sale and use of various types of cannabis, including marijuana, towns have examined the impact of welcoming businesses focused on providing those products to their customers, whether they sell it, or grow it themselves.
Connecticut announced in early January that on Feb. 3 it will open its first 90-day application period for retailers and disproportionately impacted area cultivators. Application periods for other license types will open on a rolling basis.
The state will also have multiple lotteries on an ongoing basis and will announce the number of licenses available ahead of each round. Dispensaries and producers that are already a part of the medical program will be exempt from the lottery and can apply for hybrid licenses that allow them to participate in both the medical and the recreational markets, under the new state law.
Members of the Planning & Zoning Commission discussed a draft ordinance change during a recent meeting and questioned how growers or manufacturers would be regulated if such a business were to move into town.
Chairman George Closson also pointed to three areas of town where he thought retail establishments would be appropriate: the Main Street/downtown area, the gateway areas of Route 44 and Route 183; and the industrial park for growers/manufacturers.
Selectwoman Candy Perez on Tuesday said the board should also get involved in the ordinance discussions.
“We have a medical marijuana facility 500 feet from our southern border (in Torrington on Winsted Road), and one near our northern border,” she said. “It’s important that this board have a conversation about what we want to have in our town.”
She suggested a meeting in February for the public to discuss this.
“P&Z is working on a regulation; this isn’t just about retailers, but also growers, manufacturing …. or, we may not want to have this at all,” she said.
Residents who aren’t comfortable attending the meeting can write letters to the selectmen if they have anything they want to say, said Selectwoman Candace Bouchard.
“Set a deadline for it, so they can submit something in writing,” she said.
Selectwoman Linda Groppo asked if they should invite a representative from the police department or the social worker, or state Rep. Jay Case, R-Winsted.
Mayor Todd Arcelaschi thought it was better to start by talking with residents.
“Everyone’s going to have a stake in this,” he said. “We should have citizens for the Feb. 7 meeting, then meet with businesses and other departments on issues that may come up.”
The board plans to invite a member of the zoning commission to the forum, which may or may not be held on Zoom, according to Town Manager Josh Kelly.
Information on the hearing will be posted at townofwinchester.org.