Southington officials may not have the ability to prohibit the production or sale of medical marijuana under the new state law, but new zoning regulations could play a role in preventing issues once the legislation takes effect.
Members of the Southington Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday night unanimously passed a strict set of zoning requirements to regulate the production and sale of medical marijuana in the community, addressing issues of location and licensing related to the new law.
The town is the first in the state to draft regulations, Chairman Michael DelSanto said on Tuesday, and the efforts are part of an ongoing plan to assure Southington is a safe place for today’s youth.
“This is all something we need to credit to the work of the continuous improvement subcommittee,” DelSanto said. “We are ahead of the game in tackling this issue. The goal here is control this before it controls us and I am happy to say we are on the forefront.”
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Under the regulations passed unanimously by the Southington Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday, the following restrictions were put into place:
Businesses seeking to produce marijuana will be isolated to space within the town’s industrial zones only. No production facility will be allowed within or directly adjacent to a residential or business zone.
A 1,000-foot separation distance will be required between any proposed production facility and any “sensitive area.” Sensative areas are defined as any schools, libraries, parks or residential properties.
Distribution of marijuana prescriptions shall be limited to licensed pharmacists within a licensed pharmacy only. These pharmacies may only be located within the town’s business zone.
A 750-foot separation distance shall be required between any pharmacy dispensing marijuana prescriptions and any sensitive areas.
State legislators earlier this year passed legislation that legalized the production and sale of marijuana in Connecticut for medical use, with regulations in place to make sure that doctors do not “overprescribe” and that the medicine is only sold by licensed dispensaries.
Kalkowski, chairman of the continuous improvement subcommittee, and Southington Town Attorney Mark Sciota each said that instead, the state legislation actually prevents Connecticut municipalities from prohibiting production facilities and dispensaries in their community.
“It was one of the first things we addressed with the state,” Kalkowski said. “We looked at state of Colorado, which does allow for an opt out on production, and we understand the concerns people have. I can assure the public, we’ve done our due diligence and the guidance we received is that the regulations in Connecticut do not have that available.”
Sciota said state regulations, which may be altered between now and Jan. 1, 2013, will likely only allow for six production facilities in the state and are not likely to allow for two within a single municipality.
In a town where organizations such as the Southington Town-wide Effort to Promote Success, or STEPS, have worked hard to prevent drug use among children and teenagers, the potential development of production facilities and dispensaries in the community have led to significant public concern. But STEPS member Joe Rogus, a Southington High School student, and Youth Service Director Sue Saucier praised the subcommittee’s efforts.
“I believe this is something that, while the new law is a challenge, keeps with spirit of STEPS and supporting healthy youth,” Saucier said. “One thing that stands out to us, the regulations say that marijuana can only be distributed not only through pharmacists but licensed pharmacies.”
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Author: Jason Vallee
Contact: Contact Us - Southington, CT Patch
Website: Planning Commission Sets Strict Regulations on Medical Marijuana - Southington, CT Patch