East Hartford officials proactive about medical marijuana facilities

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Aug. 30, 2013
The vacant industrial property at 88 Long Hill St. is being considered by a group looking into establishing a medical marijuana production facility in East Hartford.  Photo by Corey AmEnde.
The vacant industrial property at 88 Long Hill St. is being considered by a group looking into establishing a medical marijuana production facility in East Hartford. Photo by Corey AmEnde.

The Planning and Zoning Commission met Wednesday, Aug. 28, with three representatives from a group pursuing the possibility of establishing a medical marijuana facility in East Hartford. The information session lasted nearly an hour and was part of a workshop meeting that was held at Town Hall. 

P & Z Chair Anthony Kayser said the purpose of the meeting was to have “a discussion on the viability and the feasibility of writing into our regulations information regarding where these might be located and/or how they might be regulated.” Kayser added that currently East Hartford, like most other towns, does not have regulations for medical marijuana facilities.

Development Director Eileen Buckheit said the group first approached the town in July about building a medical marijuana facility.  Buckheit said the group is looking at a vacant industrial building at 88 Long Hill St., right next to the golf course.

“If we are welcome in East Hartford, and we have a landlord that is welcoming, then this would be a very serious consideration for us to be part of the community,” said Kevin Murphy, one of three representatives of the interested group who attended the meeting.
Murphy said he is part of a group that collectively is probably one of the largest producers of medical marijuana in New England.  In Maine alone, a group that Murphy is part of “essentially controls four of eight dispensaries.”

Former East Hartford resident Thomas Nicholas said the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection will award anywhere from three to 10 licenses for medical marijuana production facilities in the state.  There is a separate license for dispensaries. Nicholas said his group plans on applying for licenses for “several dispensaries, as well, in certain areas of the state.”

Nicholas estimated that a medical marijuana production facility in East Hartford could create between 100 and 200 full-time jobs.

Planning and Zoning Commission member Travis Simpson pointed out that although the state regulations don’t specifically prohibit production facilities and dispensaries to be in separate locations, the town should consider establishing regulations to distance the two facilities.  “I do think that’s one area where we should probably go a little above and beyond,” said Simpson.

Another concern brought up by the commission was that of security. “Security will be paramount for us,” responded Murphy. Nicholas added that the state requires 24/7 video monitoring attached to manned alarmed systems everywhere. 

The commission also addressed potential issues of odor and noise from the production facility and what the appropriate distance should be between medical marijuana production facilities and areas such as schools, houses of worship and daycares. Kayser said the commission will mirror the same distance regulations that are currently in place for liquor sales.

Town planner Michael Dayton intends to take the feedback from the session and meet with the town attorney to make any needed adjustments to the proposed regulations for medical marijuana facilities before presenting them at the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting scheduled for Sept. 11.

“The commission has to adopt the regulations, and it’s up to the applicant to file a plan,” said Buckheit.

Nicholas said the group is also looking at an industrial park in East Windsor as another potential site for a medical marijuana facility.

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