BRISTOL – After the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use, city leaders are reviewing the new state regulations and expect to update the public on further developments at the first August city council meeting.
Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said Thursday she and city attorney Dale Clift are going over 168 pages of state legislation to better understand how it pertains to zoning and other issues.
“There is a lot to digest, which is why we’re taking the time we need to make sure that we understand every aspect and can adopt best possible policy for Bristol,” she said. “I’m hoping that we’ll be able to do an overview of where we stand and the August city council meeting.”
Zoppo-Sassu said she is taking time to understand and adopt the best possible policy for marijuana dispensaries in city
Zoppo-Sassu said the city is limited to two dispensaries at the most based on the city’s population. She said the city will reach out to The Healing Corner, the city’s medical marijuana dispensary, located at 159 E Main St.
“They have one of the original six medical marijuana licenses that were issued in the state in 2013,” she said.
Zoppo-Sassu added from an economic development standpoint, the city is interested in further exploring cultivation and manufacturing sites. Justin Malley, the city’s economic development director, she said, is “investigating potential options.” Malley was on vacation Friday and could not be reached for comment.
“A lot of municipalities are probably getting cold called and cold emailed from numerous interested parties looking for information about available land and retail space,” Zoppo-Sassu said. “In Bristol, we’ve been fielding inquiries for several months at this point.”
As for the city’s zoning policy, Zoppo-Sassu said the city recently hired a consultant, whom she said is “re-writing zoning regulations for the first time in 30 years.” However, she said when The Healing Corner came to town, it was “handled like any normal site plan.”
“No special attention was paid to it; it was just handled like the retail business that it was,” she said.
Prior to becoming mayor, Zoppo-Sassu said she worked at the Connecticut Pharmacists Association, which she said was one of the “lead agencies” in developing medical marijuana legalization. She said she is “comfortable” with the regulatory activity surrounding marijuana use.
“It is safer for people to purchase from a controlled environment versus buying it off the street where it is potentially laced with fentanyl and other substances that can cause death and addiction issues,” Zoppo-Sassu said. “I think the state handled this issue the right way and that the parameters they set are appropriate. Every other state around us is legalizing marijuana. From a revenue place, we would have been losing out if we didn’t do the same. It makes sense that we be aligned with the rest of the New England region.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.