Berlin PZC Halts Medical Marijuana Businesses, Seeks ‘Better Understanding of Law’

The Berlin Planning and Zoning Commission voted Thursday to place a one-year moratorium on any businesses related to the cultivation, production of dispensing of marijuana in an effort to better set regulations that will protect the community.

Credit: Patch.
Credit: Patch.
For the time being, there will be no marijuana cultivation, production or dispensary businesses allowed in the town of Berlin – but that could change with a little more planning.

Members of the Berlin Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Thursday to put a temporary moratorium on any medical marijuana cultivation, production or dispensing business until officials have more opportunity to explore the new law and set appropriate regulations within the community.

The moratorium will begin on Jan. 14. It is set for no more than one year, although the commission reserves the right to revisit the topic at any point before next then.

“This is such a groundbreaking new law that, from a pure zoning perspective, I feel like we need time to study the law and intentions behind it,” said Berlin Town Planner Hellyn Riggins. “We need to, among other things, look at our zoning map and determine if these were to be allowed in town, where would the best zones be.”

The new law, which was approved by the state legislature in 2012, allows for the production and sale of marijuana for specific, regulated medical purposes. Companies must apply to the state, as well as meet specific municipal zoning regulations, in order to gain approval.

Nearby cultivation businesses have been approved, including one in Middletown, but there have been no applications submitted in Berlin since the law took effect.

Commission Chairman Bruce Moore said the goal of the moratorium is not to prevent such businesses from operating within the town of Berlin. Instead, he said, the temporary measure allows for further review of the law as well as time to see how the state and courts interpret the law.

Taking time to explore the law more and what it means will also help the town produce a set of regulations that will properly protect residents and existing property owners, helping prevent businesses of this nature from opening at inappropriate locations such as near schools and daycare facilities.

“The moratorium is to give us the ability to study the ramifications,” Moore said. “We are not suggesting this is something the community will never allow. It is a request for time for analysis. We are taking a deep breath and seeing how things would appropriately fit for our community.”

Riggins said she has already started exploring the law, what it means and how the town could protect itself while still providing appropriate opportunities for businesses.

“We aren’t just looking at existing zones,” she said. “We need to take a look at how things might be zoned in the future. We will determine where they should go and what’s appropriate.”

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