BRISTOL – Bristol City Council scheduled a public hearing for a pair of ordinances looking to prohibit the use of cannabis in city park spaces. The hearing is set for Feb. 1 at 5 p.m. at the Bristol Ordinances Committee.
The proposed ordinance amendment reads, “It shall be prohibited, at all times, for any individual to smoke and/or use any tobacco or cannabis product in any form while at a city park or recreational property.” The city already prohibits smoking and tobacco use in parks.
The second ordinance amendment defines legally what a park or recreational property is as well as tobacco and cannabis products.
Should the amendments be passed by council, Bristol would acknowledge cannabis as the legal definition of marijuana recognized by Connecticut statutes. A cannabis product could be anything with any form, mixture or concentration that carries cannabis intended for consumption or use. Recreational properties include athletic fields, parks, gardens, bleachers, dog parks, walking paths, trails and the like. Tobacco products prohibited include e-cigarettes, vape pens, chewing tobacco, snus and snuff and other similarly recognized items.
Previous conversations in the Bristol Ordinance Committee noted Connecticut had followed Colorado examples when it came to marijuana legislation and that certain public spaces would need to be considered open for cannabis consumption as a matter of equity. Bristol Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services Superintendent Dr. Josh Medeiros noted legislators may have considered this necessary because of equity issues. For instance, if an individual had a yard, they could go outside to smoke or use cannabis while an individual renting may not have that option.
City legal counsel, Tim Conlin, said through some of his research about cannabis use in municipalities that sidewalks could potentially be declared a sufficient public space in order to meet state mandates. Council member Cheryl Thibeault said they may need to explore sidewalks as public use areas further as some residents may not want marijuana use happening in front of their homes.
Council member Sue Tyler said to her understanding the state may be giving some leeway in the form of time to municipalities as they explore the legal responsibilities and scenarios connected to park and public marijuana use and the implementation of regulations surrounding the issue.
The ordinance committee chose to bring the proposed ordinance amendment changes before the City Council and said that further tweaking and conversations surrounding park and public marijuana use would likely continue into the future as many municipalities across the state tackle the topic.