SOUTHINGTON — Planning and Zoning Commission members considering changes to rules governing medical marijuana dispensaries met for the first time this month.
Earlier this year, neighbors of a proposed medical marijuana facility on Queen Street strongly opposed the dispensary on the grounds that it was too close to homes and schools. The plan was eventually dropped.
A second proposal, which the commission supported, calls for a dispensary on Knotter Drive if the applicant receives a rare state permit.
Jennifer Clock, a commission member, said at its first meeting the committee requested maps from the Planning Department showing where existing regulations allow a dispensary.
She said the committee may find there are too many or too few areas open to dispensaries.
“You can’t just look at it as, the community may not want it,” Clock said. “It is a tax revenue for the town.”
Peter Santago, a commission and committee member, said the regulations restrict medical marijuana growing operations from being too close to entities like churches and schools. No such restrictions are placed on marijuana dispensaries.
“Some (business zone locations) are bordering residential, and some are not,” he said.
The conflict between federal law, which prohibits marijuana possession of all kinds, and state law, which allows for medical uses, won’t influence the committee’s eventual recommendations, according to Clock.
“We were advised by the town attorney that we can’t take that into consideration,” she said.
The town's two applications for medical marijuana dispensaries came after the Department of Consumer Protection announced it would be awarding more permits. Local approval was a requirement of the state's process.
Department of Consumer Protection spokeswoman Lora Rae Anderson said awards might be granted this fall for between three and 10 new facilities. The department received 73 applications earlier this year.