No pot stores in Shelton this year, P&Z says

SHELTON — Zoning officials have a year to determine what the future holds for cannabis sales in the city.

The Planning and Zoning Commission, at its meeting Tuesday, adopted a one-year moratorium on the acceptance of applications and the use of land or buildings for adult-use cannabis businesses.

Commission Chair Virginia Harger said the moratorium goes into effect Friday and will run as long as a year, or until the commission adopts amendments to the existing zoning regulations that regulate cannabis establishments, whichever occurs first.

Last year, the state legislature legalized marijuana in Connecticut. Beginning July 1,2021, it became legal for adults older than 21 to have an ounce-and-a-half of marijuana, plus another five ounces in a locked container.

Retail sales in Connecticut are expected to begin as soon as this spring, under legislation approved by the state last year.

Harger said the new law defines a cannabis establishment as a producer, dispensary facility, cultivator, micro-cultivator, retailer, hybrid retailer, food and beverage manufacturer, product manufacturer, product packager and delivery service or transporter.

Section 148 of the new law permits a municipality, through its zoning regulations, to prohibit or establish reasonable restrictions on cannabis establishments.

If the municipality does not amend its regulations to address this use, Harger said, then cannabis establishments would be considered a permitted use in those zoning districts where similar retail and commercial establishments are already permitted.

“As the new regulation raised unique legal, planning, and public safety issues,” Harger said, “I proposed that a prudent course of action would be for the commission to enact a moratorium to allow it and staff enough time to study whether or not cannabis establishments would need to be regulated in our municipality, which would require an amendment to our present zoning regulations.”

The commission’s Zoning Subcommittee, with input from the entire commission, will be putting together the new regulations concerning cannabis establishments within the coming weeks and months.