Feb. 18—TOLLAND — The public hearing on proposed zoning regulations for the retail sale of cannabis in town has been extended to the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Feb. 28.
The proposed regulations would allow cannabis retailers and dispensaries as “retail uses,” establishing cannabis as a retail product similar to liquor.
They also would allow both recreational and medical cannabis to be grown in the town’s agricultural zones.
Under state law, Tolland would be permitted to have only one retail cannabis shop and one micro-cultivator because the town has fewer than 25,000 residents.
PZC Chairman Andy Powell said Thursday that the public hearing on the proposed regulations, which began Monday, was extended to fine-tune the regulations as well as receive more input from the public.
Powell also said that the PZC will consider allowing cannabis to be grown in more areas in town, as it is grown differently from other crops.
“Quite frankly, you don’t grow this out in a field like wheat or corn,” Powell said, noting that commercial cannabis cultivation is normally indoors.
The PZC also will look at regulations that nearby towns have enacted to further inform its decision, Powell added.
Several residents brought up concerns about allowing the retail sale of cannabis in Tolland during Monday’s public hearing.
Tolland resident Susan Salem said that allowing retail cannabis establishments would send the wrong message to Tolland youth and would normalize drug use.
Other residents, like Lisa Burns, said any cannabis dispensaries or growing facilities should be kept away from local schools.
The proposed regulations would prohibit visible advertisement of cannabis products within 500 feet of school grounds, public recreation areas, and libraries.
A retail cannabis establishment could be sited within 500 feet of these areas, unless the PZC sets further restrictions.
The town of Vernon approved regulations last November allowing retail cannabis shops in town as long as they are at least 3,000 feet away from schools. This came after Vernon Superintendent Joseph Macary advocated for the required separation from schools in order to ensure student safety.
Ben covers Coventry and Tolland for the Journal Inquirer.