SOUTHINGTON – Residents who want a town referendum on allowing recreational marijuana sales are planning signature drives.
While some are putting their efforts into getting a referendum on November’s ballot, the Town Council directed the Planning and Zoning Commission to consider regulations on the sale of recreational marijuana in town.
Some town leaders are concerned about the effect local marijuana sales would have on youth and the town’s drug abuse prevention efforts. The state law passed this summer legalizing recreational marijuana allows municipalities to decide, either through regulation changes or a referendum, if pot sales are allowed in a town or city.
Stacey Dolan, an administrator in the Southington Talks Facebook group, is working to collect the 3,146 signatures needed to put the question of recreational marijuana sales to voters on Election Day. State law requires a referendum on the issue if at least 10 percent of registered voters request one.
Last week, the Southington Democratic Town Committee called for a referendum on the question. The first signature drive was scheduled for Friday night at the Southington Drive-In, 995 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike. A second signature collection event at the drive-in will be held on July 22 from 5 to 8 p.m.
“We wanted to make this easy for residents to participate and accommodate people who may not be vaccinated or have concerns about COVID,” Dolan said.
Speaking at a council meeting earlier this week, Dolan said she wants all voters in town to have a voice in the decision. She supports a vote in favor of marijuana sales but believes residents on both sides will better accept the outcome if it is the result of a town-wide referendum.
CBD stores owner sees growth
Rob Anselmo opened Timeless CBD on North Main Street in 2015. CBD products, such as oils, deliver benefits of marijuana without the high, Anselmo said, but it wasn’t until 2017 that consumer interest started to take off.
Even though CBD products are legal, they’re still linked in some people’s minds with the illegal drug. Now that marijuana is legal, Anselmo expects big growth for the industry, which is what occurred in Massachusetts after that state legalized recreational marijuana.
While Anselmo is hoping that Southington will allow recreational sales, he won’t be selling cannabis products that produce a high.
“All my customers have come forward, ‘Are you going to turn into a dispensary? The answer is no,’” Anselmo said.
He believes more people will be interested in the benefits of cannabis but most won’t want the high that accompanies the recreational products. He didn’t expect the numbers of those smoking marijuana to change much with legalization and didn’t believe it was a cause for alarm.
“Just because you have wine bottles in your cabinet, doesn’t mean your kids are going to become alcoholics,” Anselmo said.
The Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m.