Editorials


A Considered And Considerate Decision

Published: June 21, 2018 at 12:00 am

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Despite some trepidation on the parts of some Planning and Zoning members, town officials, and residents, P&Z has moved to make a medical marijuana dispensary in Newtown a possibility.

Earlier this spring, P&Z turned down an application to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the industrial area of Commerce Road. Newtown's zoning regulations barred medical marijuana dispensaries as a permitted use; nor could one be considered a retail outlet.

The applicant appealed the decision, seeking modifications to zoning regulations and a special permit, and on June 7, P&Z granted approval of such new regulations and permit for the property.

Zoning rules and permits granted are to protect property values and develop the community in a well-thought-out manner. Assessing the many situations that come to the town's attention is critical to determining the benefits to the community and determining which current zoning regulations are worthy of further examination and modifications. How beneficial a business would be to residents of the town is taken into consideration before modifying standing regulations - or designating yet another special zone for a particular business.

Whether a dispensary in a neighborhood increases crime in the vicinity or not is disputed. A July 2017 Journal of Urban Economics report is among those that suggest it does not; an Ohio State University study showed reason for concern - although noting the risk is comparable to property crime levels near establishments serving liquor. Unoccupied business sites are more likely crime magnets than a thriving dispensary.

Arguments that dispensaries exist nearby, negating the need for yet another, place a burden on those hampered by illness and seeking convenient access for pain relief.

A medical marijuana dispensary is an opportunity for education. These facilities can serve as a healthy environment to legally access marijuana recommended by a doctor. In Connecticut, it is a highly regulated business. Only people diagnosed with certain debilitating medical conditions and specifically qualified can purchase from a dispensary. Cancer, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and glaucoma patients would be among the eligible customers.

Current statistics from the Connecticut Department of Commerce indicate that of Connecticut's 26,483 registered medical marijuana patients, just over 5,500 are in Fairfield County. A flood of users to our town does not seem likely; it appears P&Z has weighed negative impacts against the benefits to those seeking relief from this source and found the scales in favor of the facility.

P&Z approval does not mean Newtown will be home to a medical marijuana dispensary. While the Department of Consumer Protection notes the need for such dispensaries is growing, it is not a given that the DCP will select this application for one of only three to ten new licenses it plans to grant; more than 70 applications have been submitted.

Newtown is recognizing this business proposition as a potential benefit to individuals in need of doctor recommended medications to ease suffering, and to the town. With the correct security in place and attention to regulations to discourage abuse, this possibility could be positive addition to the Newtown business community.

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This Week's Poll

Newtown Cultural Arts Commission is presenting or coordinating on six weeks of special events. Which event are you looking forward to the most? (Visit our Features page for a full story with details about all of these events.)

“In The Bag” exhibition, on view to September 28
0% (0 votes)
The Lords of 52nd Street concert, September 14
0% (0 votes)
Newtown Arts Festival weekend, September 15-16
50% (1 vote)
“An Evening of the Arts,” September 15
50% (1 vote)
“The Fox on the Fairway” production by Town Players of Newtown, weekends September 21-October 13
0% (0 votes)
“The Main Street Replica Project,” launching September 25
0% (0 votes)
Someday Cinema Series screenings of “The Blues Brothers,” September 30
0% (0 votes)
Photography display “In Our Rearview Mirror” by Marleen Cafarelli, et al, October 1-30
0% (0 votes)
“Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb” with Tinky Weisblat, October 3
0% (0 votes)
Newtown Day, October 6
0% (0 votes)
The 3rd Annual Newtown-Sandy Hook Restaurant Week, October 8-14
0% (0 votes)
Basket weaving workshop with Tina Puckett, October 13
0% (0 votes)
“Courageous Conversations in A Complex World,” October 17
0% (0 votes)
Live at ETH: David Wax Museum concert, October 19
0% (0 votes)
The 2nd Annual Fall Carnival at Fairfield Hills, October 19-21
0% (0 votes)
Connecticut Author’s Reading Series, October 21
0% (0 votes)
Natalie’s Open Mic, October 21
0% (0 votes)
“The Wordsmiths,” October 24
0% (0 votes)
Pianist Konstanza Chernov, October 28
0% (0 votes)
Someday Cinema Series double feature screenings of “Bride of Frankenstein” and “The Beast with Five Fingers,” October 29
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 2