Danbury law would allow 4 types of marijuana business, including recreational pot, but not on high street

DANBURY — The city would allow four types of marijuana businesses — including recreational pot sales — but not on Main Street, according to a draft bylaw set to be debated this summer.

According to the bylaws, written by the city’s top planner, the number of marijuana businesses would be capped at no more than four at a time throughout the city, and they would be confined to certain commercial and industrial areas where they would not operate. not encroach on schools, parks and places of worship. Seven other types of marijuana businesses, such as making cannabis foods and drinks, would be banned.

“We’ll see how the debate goes, but I personally am comfortable with it,” Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito said Friday. “The opportunity is there for these companies, but I wouldn’t want to see more than that, to tell you the truth.”

The city’s most elected Democrat agreed it’s best to legislate cautiously in a climate of marijuana legalization that’s still new to Connecticut.

“Once we say ‘yes’, we can’t say ‘no’,” said Paul Rotello, the city council’s Democratic Minority Leader. “I think you want to start with some trepidation because you can always add to the ‘yes’ later, but you can’t reduce the ‘yes’.”

Rotello refers to the general cautious reaction that most cities and towns adopted when the Connecticut state government decriminalized marijuana on July 1, 2021. Part of the reluctance was that leaders wanted time to figure it out. 300-page state law. Concerns have also been raised over the official acceptance of donating a drug that was once a public enemy.

Danbury responded by passing a one-year temporary ban on all applications for a new marijuana business — a moratorium that expires July 29 but could be extended to give the city more time to debate proposed regulations. Other communities such as Newtown have responded with a total ban on cannabis establishments.

Local bans did not affect people’s rights to have up to 1.5 ounces of jar in their possession and to have up to 5 ounces stored safely. Additionally, state law allowed patients in the medical marijuana program to have a limited number of potted plants in their homes.

Retail sales of recreational pot aren’t expected to begin in Connecticut until later this year, when Danbury may have a cannabis regulatory model in place.

“We’ll have recreational potty retail sales at Danbury – it’s going to happen,” Rotello said. “So get ready.”

What the law says

In Danbury, regulations would cap the total number of marijuana businesses based on category.

In other words, the regulations would allow no more than two hybrid retailers that sell both medical marijuana and recreational pot to adults, or no more than three businesses in the following categories: a medical marijuana dispensary, a recreational pot retailer and a hybrid retailer. Additionally, the regulations would not allow more than one micro-grower – a small-scale indoor plant grower whose “growing space” is between 2,000 and 10,000 square feet.

Danbury’s existing medical marijuana dispensary on the West Side, which predated the city’s moratorium, counts toward the cap contemplated in the proposed bylaw.

The nine elected members of the city’s Zoning Commission will review the proposed bylaws at a July 12 meeting. The commission will hold a public hearing before voting.

The Republican-controlled city council speaker said he understands there are competing concerns and is confident the decision is in good hands.

“I don’t think there’s an answer that will make everyone happy, but it’s being handled by the right party and the process is being followed,” Vinny DiGilio said Friday. “If the commission decides not to do anything by the end of July, they have the option of extending (the temporary ban) and I am confident that they will make the right decision.”

One option the regulations rule out is a marijuana business on Main Street — the city’s traditional civic and cultural center that has lagged behind economic development on the east and west side for decades. The regulations limit marijuana businesses to specific business areas outside of the Main Street corridor in up-and-coming areas such as Mill Plain Road.

To ensure the message is clear, the regulations are explicit, saying that “cannabis establishments will not be permitted on lots which, in whole or in part, border Main Street/Route 53 in Danbury.”

Among other restrictions in the regulations, customers will not be able to consume cannabis in marijuana businesses, and marijuana businesses must have a written “odor reduction program” as a condition of approval to ensure that the business contains “any detectable impact beyond the physical limits of the building.”

Among the marijuana businesses prohibited in the proposed regulations are large-scale cannabis growers, cannabis delivery services and the manufacture of cannabis products.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342