Cannabis Moratorium Extension Expected in Guilford
Cannabis sales won’t be coming to Guilford anytime soon after a Board of Selectmen (BOS) vote to set a date to extend a temporary moratorium on sales and production. The previous moratorium was set to expire at the end of the year and would require action from the BOS. The board will now meet on Monday, Dec. 18 for a vote that could extend that temporary deferment.
Before its Nov. 20 meeting, First Selectman Matt Hoey said there are still several items that the town needs to get resident feedback on and debate before any approval is given by the board to sales or production.
“We are discussing the parameters under which we would allow the various types of cannabis-related businesses to operate in the town of Guilford, including the number of establishments and where they would go, and as uniquely as important, where they wouldn’t go,” said Hoey.
Hoey and BOS members stressed the need to ensure public involvement in any decision, whether for or against sales and production. According to town regulations, there is no limit on the number of times a temporary moratorium can be extended.
“The preliminary thinking has been that we need to put this in front of the people. This isn’t just a simple yes or no, but how would we allow it to happen here? If the board moves in the direction of allowing it, I think it would be very tightly restricted because that is what we are hearing,” said Hoey. “It is not unlike alcohol sales, not within 500 feet of a school, church, or daycare. These entities would have to be in commercial and industrial areas and also probably not within the radius of the greater downtown area. We think that if we are going to bring something before the people, it would be fashioned in that way, but we really want to compile all the info and discuss this and get input with our new town planner, Anne Hartjen.”
Hoey noted that zoning regulations would restrict any cannabis business into designated areas, which are predominantly along the Route 1 corridor.
At the Nov. 20 meeting, Hoey said the BOS hopes to have a document to present to residents that can be utilized as a platform for further discussions.
“We are hoping to have a working document before the end of the year so that we can start to...get it out into the community and get some feedback,” Hoey said. “This document will be very specific.”
Cannabis cafés or consumption areas are not specifically provisioned for in Connecticut’s cannabis legalization act; as such, Hoey said residents do not need to be concerned with pot cafés popping up in town. The two main avenues of the law focus on cultivation and dispensary retail sales.
Some board members raised the question of signage for dispensaries and how that might impact the community. That matter can be addressed via state mandates and current zoning regulations, according to Hoey.
“In the state statute, there are definitive sign guidelines, which we can revisit,” said Hoey.
Interestingly, despite North Guilford’s long agricultural tradition, there has been limited engagement from farmers in the upper reaches of town regarding possible cultivation of cannabis. Hoey said that may be due to the necessity of indoor facilities for the production of the plant, which requires precise humidity, airflow, and temperature control, among other conditions, in order to grow multiple crops successfully each year.
Hoey said that there is little interest so far from the community in growing facilities as cannabis is most economically grown indoors and requires large facilities, which obviously raises the startup investment for anyone seeking to become a grower, he said.