Ban on recreational pot shops pitched
WESTPORT — With three applications for medical marijuana dispensaries before the Planning and Zoning Commission, two Representative Town Meeting members proposed an ordinance to ban marijuana-related businesses, other than a medical marijuana dispensary, from operating in Westport.
“The sole purpose is to ensure the implementation of clear safety guidelines, appropriate financial compensation to Westport, and to specifically deter businesses using large local medical marijuana locations as a pretext to recreational,” Representative Town Meeting District 5 member Greg Kraut said in describing his proposed ordinance, co-sponsored by District 4 RTM member Andrew Colabella.
The day after the April 3 meeting at which Kraut presented the proposed ordinance, Colabella told the Westport News he retracted his co-sponsorship of the ordinance but declined to provide comment on why he no longer supports the legislation. Immediately after the RTM meeting, Colabella said he supported the ordinance as a way to control the development of recreational marijuana if it were ever to become legalized in the state and protect residents.
“We have to use this as a negotiating ploy against the state to influence how much money we get,” Kraut said, noting in states such as Massachusetts and Oregon that have legalized recreational marijuana municipalities receive only up to three percent of the
revenue with the state
making the rest.
“Based on this type of data, there is a high likelihood that anticipated municipal revenue is insufficient to fund extra services needed at the local level, let alone yield a profit for Westport,” Kraut said, adding the town will need to expend increased monitoring and public protection were recreational marijuana to become legal at the state level.
First Selectman Jim Marpe attended the RTM meeting and said he believes the intent of the ordinance is worth looking into, but said the town does not yet know what the impact of readily available medical marijuana will be. “Let’s try and learn from others experiences to see if this makes sense to our community without being judgemental about whether this is a good or bad thing,” Marpe said.
No RTM members spoke in the comment portion after Kraut presented the ordinance. Kraut’s ordinance will now go to the ordinance committee for review and, if the RTM’s planning and zoning and human services committees approve the ordinance, it will go before the full RTM for a vote, RTM Deputy Moderator Jeff Wieser said.
While Colabella said many RTM members disagree with Kraut’s ordinance, first-time RTM member Christine Meiers Schatz, from district 2, said she is concerned about the larger issue but curious about the procedural aspects and whether an ordinance is the right way to address the topic of recreational marijuana. “I’m just curious to see what’s going to happen Meiers Schatz said.
The full RTM will next meet May 7.
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