State official urges caution in locating licensed marijuana facilities

In a recent letter to state Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein, Rep. James Maroney (D-Orange, Milford) urged the Department of Consumer Protection to consider proximity to schools and the protection of children when developing regulations for the locating licensed marijuana facilities.

“I wanted to congratulate the DCP’s staff on their diligence in implementing what I believe to be the strongest medical marijuana law in the country,” Rep. Maroney said. “But at the same time, I wanted to point out the omission in the language of the state law concerning a 1,000-foot buffer zone around schools, religious and other institutions.”

Like some other cities around the state, Milford has taken steps to stall creation of medical marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries within its borders to give local officials time to fully understand the new regulations.

The Planning and Zoning Board recently voted for a two-month moratorium to give the city attorney time to research regulations regarding the growing and distribution of medical marijuana.

Other cities in the area have already tackled the issue, some imposing up to year-long holds on approval for such establishments.

At the same time, in West Haven, for example, the Planning and Zoning Board has already approved a growing facility application.

Milford had considered a year-long moratorium on production or distribution operations but decided that was excessive and voted for the two months instead. The board decided it will not accept or consider any application to permit the establishment of medical marijuana producers and dispensary facilities until Feb. 27. The move gives the city time to research and create any additional city regulations it may see fit to impose.

Medical marijuana is legal in many states, including all six New England states.

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in Colorado and Washington state.

Marijuana for medical purposes became legal on Oct. 1, 2012, in Connecticut, based on action by the state legislature and governor, and the specific guidelines and regulations pertaining to the law were approved in 2013.

As of November, the state had received 27 applications from applicants hoping to become dispensing facilities and 16 from applicants hoping to become producers.

Maroney noted that regulations provide the DCP latitude when it comes to placement of facilities for those that need access to medical marijuana, and for the department to observe the federal law that maintains a 1000-foot buffer zone for marijuana dispensaries in their decisions.

“There is a possibility that if the buffer zones are not observed the federal government may step in and close dispensaries that are placed too close to a facility covered by the buffer zone,” Rep. Maroney added. “In fact, in Colorado and Washington, the U.S. Attorneys actively engaged with state licensed facilities to close down facilities that were within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, public housing and other areas.”

In his letter, Rep. Maroney asked Commissioner Rubenstein to honor the federal buffer zone when siting dispensaries.