The cannabis debate is not over for many communities in the US. Cannabis businesses continue to open and close due to changing regulations, while others are stuck under mountains of debt…
Several residents testified at the Essex Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on Nov. 9 as the commission continues to juggle two proposals pertaining to cannabis operations in town.
Roger Kern, an Essex citizen, has proposed a language modification that would prohibit any form of cannabis establishment. The commission’s second recommendation is for a temporary six-month ban during which no cannabis-related applications would be reviewed and no zoning permits will be given.
The commission did not take any action on either application, instead deferring public hearings on both plans until its meeting on Thursday, Dec. 9.
“It’s going to be the law of the land in the state of Connecticut that we’re permitted to do this,” Ivoryton resident Steven Everly said. “I believe it is a mistake for the municipality to drive economic growth elsewhere.” Kern’s suggestion to outlaw cannabis in town drew mixed reactions from residents. The commission received three pieces of letter in support of his plan, while those who spoke out against it during the public hearing.
Everly went on to say that he does not believe in a moratorium.
“I don’t believe we should start a dispensary until we’re second or third in line,” Everly said.
Nicole Bartolomei, a public health nurse from Essex, spoke about the advantages of medicinal marijuana in terms of pain treatment for a variety of chronic conditions.
“I believe it would be sensible not to pass a blanket ordinance prohibiting our community from ever doing business with this factory,” Bartolomei said. “Its potential is still being unearthed, and its application will never be halted.”
“I’ve seen marijuana treat my patients with chronic pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, and nausea firsthand,” Piontkowski added. “Some of these things may not seem to be dreadful, but for someone facing a cancer diagnosis, the agony, the sadness, it’s really life altering.” Matt Piontkowski, an Ivoryton resident, spoke about his experience as an oncology registered nurse.
Piontkowski went on to say that Connecticut has a small number of registered medicinal marijuana stores, with the nearest one being several miles distant from Essex.
“What it boils down to here in Essex is that not allowing dispensaries creates a barrier to treatment and access,” he said.
Vice Chair Jane Siris also spoke about her visit to a medical marijuana clinic in Groton to learn more about the procedure and how other dispensaries may be applying to sell recreational marijuana.
Kern eventually agreed to restrict his application to recreational cannabis establishments ahead to the commission’s hearing on December 9th.
“I don’t believe we need to recreate the wheel here,” said David Rosengren, an Alternate Commission Member. “I believe we need to determine whether we’re going to accept it or not, and then under what conditions, and I believe it should be a reasonably rapid process.” The six-month period appeals to me. “I believe we’ve had enough time.” Members of the commission and the public debated the application for the interim ban, with Legal Counsel Larry Shipman outlining the timeline and boundaries of the state’s cannabis legalization for municipalities.
The commission is expected to make a decision on the moratorium during its December meeting, which will also allow for further public feedback.