Draft regulations evolving for medical marijuana facilities

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Thu., Sep. 12, 2013
Town Planner Michael Dayton addresses the revised draft regulations for medical marijuana facilities at the Planning and Zoning meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 11.  Photo By Corey AmEnde.
Town Planner Michael Dayton addresses the revised draft regulations for medical marijuana facilities at the Planning and Zoning meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 11. Photo By Corey AmEnde.

The Planning and Zoning Commission continues to move forward with drafting regulations for medical marijuana production and dispensary facilities in the town of East Hartford. The P & Z Commission addressed the revised draft regulations as part of its meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 11. 

“I think the commission has been very prudent,” said Thomas Nicholas, a representative of a group interested in the possibility of establishing a medical marijuana facility in town. “I think they’re looking at it the correct way. They’re being proactive about it, and that’s the way to get business done.”

Town Planner Michael Dayton said he had Richard Gentile, the assistant corporation counsel for East Hartford, review the draft, “and he came back with a bunch of new definitions, basically mirroring a lot of the state regulatory language that is part of the act,” said Dayton.

Setting specific distance requirements between medical marijuana facilities and parks, playgrounds, schools and municipal buildings was one of the issues discussed at the workshop on Wednesday, Aug. 28, but Dayton said he is not recommending any distance requirements for production purposes, since “most of the industrial zones are in somewhat secluded areas,” explained Dayton. Such production facilities would only be allowed in industrial zones in town.

“It was my feeling that the distance requirements were not necessitated for a couple of reasons,” said Dayton. “One is that we’re being told on a state level that they’re only going to approve a limited number of production facilities for the entire state, so the likelihood that the town of East Hartford is going to get a second production facility is probably pretty slim.”

“We may not get the first,” added Anthony Kayser, the chairman of the P & Z Committee.

Nicholas, a former East Hartford resident, 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.

Development Director Eileen Buckheit said the group is looking at a vacant industrial building at 88 Long Hill St., right next to the golf course.

“We like East Hartford,” said Nicholas. His group is also considering an industrial site in East Windsor. 

In terms of the dispensaries, Dayton is recommending distance requirements because, he said, “I think there are probably more issues that could come up as it relates to those facilities, and I think those need to be looked at a whole lot closer." He said the distance requirements would be similar to what the town already has in place for selling alcoholic beverages.

Dayton said Gentile also modified the section on dispensaries to include language limiting dispensaries to only dispensing pharmaceutical marijuana. “There are a lot of facilities out there that have other uses that are associated with the dispensing of medical marijuana and it was our feeling, at least from a staff’s perspective, that the co-mingling of those types of uses with the dispensing of pharmaceutical medical marijuana may create more problems,” said Dayton.

He said other uses of dispensaries include counseling, massage therapy and aroma therapy, to name a few examples. Nicholas said his group is not interested in adding other services at a dispensary. “I think the whole intent from the Department of Consumer Protection is having a dispensary where patients have easy access, where it’s convenient for them to get there and get their medication,” said Nicholas. “That’s basically all we’re going to do.”

Dayton said there is also language in the draft regulations for production facilities stating they “cannot create any emission of dust, odor, fumes, waste, noise, vibrations, traffic and environmental effects,” said Dayton. “We also put in requirements that the security plan for the production facility be outlined in a report reviewed by the East Hartford police chief and that the fire department review the storage of fertilizer associated with the production of marijuana for fire-fighting feasibility,” added Dayton. 

The dispensary would also require a security report to the police chief. Dayton said that Gentile added requirements, “saying the dispensary facility does not offer any products/services other than marijuana or paraphernalia offered or sold in conjunction with the dispensary facility,” said Dayton. 

Following any necessary revisions, the regulations will be sent to the Capitol Region Council of Governments for review.  The council will review the regulations to make sure they’re not in conflict with any regional plans or policies.

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