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Moratorium on recreational marijuana sales in Danbury approved by Zoning Commission

A moratorium on recreational marijuana sales in Danbury has been approved by the Zoning Commission.  A public hearing was held Tuesday night on the pause, for a year or less, on new applications. 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro told the Commission that her office wanted the time to review the several-hundred pages of state legislation that took effect July 1st, having been approved only eight days prior.  There are nine types of licenses in the law, including for production, growing and manufacturing. all of which are currently prohibited in Danbury.  Calitro says the ban should apply equally to both medicinal and recreational, or not be in place. 

One member of the public, two City Councilmen and the Mayor spoke in favor of the temporary prohibition.  5 members of the public spoke against the proposal.  Zoners closed the hearing, and later voted unanimously in favor of the short-term ban. 

The medical marijuana moratorium in 2012 was proposed for a year, but was lifted before that time.  Resident Mike Deary noted that it was 8 years between palliative use of marijuana being approved by the state and the time a dispensary applied to come in.  He added that police have been evaluating stoned drivers and motorists impaired by other substances for years.  Deary says police will be freed up from prosecuting small time marijuana users. 

Carl Tirella, owner of the medical marijuana dispensary opening on Mill Plain Road, says any recreational establishment is allowed under the new law to deliver to any municipality in the state of Connecticut, not just the city or town where the facility is located.  He says that means any Danbury resident who wants recreational cannabis, delivery will still happen.

Others speaking in opposition to the moratorium noted that these facilities would bring jobs to the City. 

Councilman Paul Rotello says with the state giving municipalities only 3-percent of the sales tax, the revenue might not be worth it. 

Under the legislation, he noted that larger cities, including Danbury, can designate places where recreational marijuana use would be allowed.  He expressed concerns, and compared it to bar owners and bartenders that have liability if they allow someone visibly intoxicated to get behind the wheel and then cause an accident.  If Danbury were to designate a public space and something happens, he says the City could be liable.