EDITORIAL: Committee approves banning marijuana in Southington parks

A proposal to ban marijuana use in town parks gained the approval of an ordinance review committee in Southington recently. If it meets the agreement of the Town Council, marijuana will join tobacco and alcohol in being prohibited in parks and on the Farmington Canal Linear Trail.

William Dziedzic, a council Republican and chairman of the ordinance committee, said the update is needed “to treat recreational marijuana the same as we would alcohol and tobacco in parks and the trail.” 

Dziedzic said “we’re not targeting recreational marijuana or treating it any differently.” While that might be true when it comes strictly to the proposed ordinance, marijuana is already being treated differently in Southington. Alcohol and tobacco sales are allowed in town, but last year the decision was made to not allow marijuana sales or production in Southington. So those who support recreational use have reason to see this ordinance update as another restriction.

Municipalities have been deciding how to move forward since the state legalized cannabis for recreational use, and Southington’s proposed restriction on use in parks would be consistent with its response since legalization was approved. Tony D’Angelo, a Democrat who is on the ordinance committee, called it “a proactive ordinance.”

Every two years, the Southington Town-Wide Effort to Promote Success, a local substance abuse prevention coalition, commissions a study of local youth. The most recent survey, the results of which were reported by the Record-Journal at the end of last month, found that while alcohol, prescription drugs and tobacco use are considered more risky among young people, the same cannot be said when it comes to cannabis.

Legalization has helped change perception. “We can see that really affects the trend,” said Megan Albanese, the town’s Youth Prevention Coordinator and a STEPS staff worker. “Our kids are not thinking that cannabis is harmful at all.”

The ordinance can thus be viewed as an opportunity for education, something D’Angelo noted, as well as a move consistent with Southington’s response so far to cannabis legalization.





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