Residents, businesses, officials have many questions, opinions about potential sale of recreational cannabis in Bristol

Published on Friday, 5 August 2022 15:22
Written by Dean Wright


BRISTOL – Would cannabis sales within the city change Bristol’s character? Would it serve as a driver to economic success? Could legalized recreational sales be a means of overseeing safer consumption of a product in the city that’s already purchased by illegal means nationwide?

Area residents, businesses and officials asked all these questions and more about the potential sale of recreational cannabis within city limits during the latest Ordinance Committee meeting.

State Sen. Henri Martin said that despite the state having approved the recreational sale of cannabis, he was not for it. He did see a place for the medical use of the substance, however. He criticized the manner in which state legislators had made recreational cannabis consumption legal and felt the substance was physically dangerous to area families.

“I’m here to oppose this draft that is in front of us regarding the cannabis establishments, including the expansion of any new medicinal dispensary or allowing any cultivation or micro-cultivation and retail sales,” he said. 

TruLieve Senior Director of Public Affairs Ben Kimbro said the business had overlooked the current drafts of proposed ordinance and felt they made sense. Should the proposed ordinances limit recreational marijuana sales in Bristol pass, TrulLieve could be among one or two dispensaries within the municipality to sell recreational cannabis.

“We’re in support of the ordinance and the language as it’s presented and further wish to commend city staff. It has been an absolute delight to work with the City of Bristol at each step of this,” he said.

Nick DeLuca, a commercial real estate broker, not from Bristol but representing a cannabis company looking to potentially sell within the city, shared he felt the key in bridging the gap between those who were uncertain about recreational cannabis was in communication and education.

“These have been very positively (in other areas) received and been run in the medical realm very professionally,” he said via digital conferencing. “I think if people learned a little bit more about them who are uncomfortable, they would get a much greater level of comfort.”

Bristol resident Mel Bee encouraged city officials to consider implementing recreational cannabis sales in the city equitably.

“Black and brown people were disproportionately impacted by the war against cannabis over the last century,” Bee said. “We need to ensure that we make good on the way we failed communities and allow persons of color and underserved populations the priority to become business owners.”

As a medical cannabis-utilizing patient, Bee also felt Bristol should be careful to not inundate any one facility with too many consumers of cannabis to meet the needs of many.

Al Gyurko, Bristol resident, said he knew that recreational cannabis had become legal in the state but did residents want its sales to become part of what the city was known for.

“Who is demanding this? What is the need here? Even though there maybe a little bit of a need, is it a worthwhile need for people?” Gyurko said. “Will having marijuana in Bristol build character that we’re looking for in the city or will this dumb down the character of people? Those are my concerns. To have us have more revenue for the town, I don’t think that is a worthy cause for bringing in facilities. “

He considered cannabis to be a gateway to more powerful substances.

Bristol resident Chad Simard said the city should consider the potential of other businesses involved with cannabis in Bristol even if it intends to exclude retail sales.

“I apologize, I don’t have the expansive list of how many cannabis plant touching company licenses will be issued, but I do know that is going to happen regardless of if Bristol wants to be onboard or not,” he said. “One of the things that I would try to focus on is, let’s say whether I agree or disagree, it would be that more jobs are going to be created. There are food and beverage, a transport license, a micro-cultivator license. I have, like you guys, seen many businesses come and go. For whatever reason that is, I’d love to sit down with all of you and talk about that instead of this and try to figure out why we don’t support local businesses. . .There are other businesses still hanging on here in the city that need support and (people) actually continue to move outside the city to eat, to drink alcohol and do all those other things.”

Simard said the city may want to consider regulating specific types of cannabis-related business licenses in the city.

Dr. Deepak Cyril D'Souza, professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, addressed the committee through digital conferencing software and encouraged those present to consider a variety of issues related to cannabis consumption in Bristol. He said in studies conducted surrounding legal cannabis usage in other states, concerns about impaired driving had increased. The use of cannabis saw increased danger to the mental health of users in connection with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. D’Souza also said studies of the substance’s usage noted a negative effect on cognitive development.

“I’ve been conducting research on cannabis and its constituents for the last 25 years. Most of that is funded by the U.S. government,” he said. “I’m here not to talk on behalf of Yale University or the VA hospital where I work, but I’m here to talk as a scientist, as a father of a young person and as someone who drives on I-95 every day.”

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Friday, 5 August 2022 15:22. Updated: Friday, 5 August 2022 15:25.