Cromwell bans cannabis use on public lands


CROMWELL – Although no one from the public attended last week’s council hearing on banning the use of cannabis on city property, city leaders say they believe the community supports the measure.

The ordinance, unanimously approved Wednesday night, also includes a ban on smoking on public lands, City Manager Anthony Salvatore said. It “created” an exception for use on public rights of way on “improved” – or paved – roads.

Connecticut became the 19th state in the nation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana last June.

Connecticut DUI laws already prohibit the use of alcohol or other drugs in motor vehicles, Salvatore said.

“I didn’t want to get into a polemic: ‘So-and-so smokes and walks on the sidewalk’ or ‘Smokes tobacco products,'” he said.

Salvatore said most of the comments he received support the ban. “Many already thought that smoking was banned in parks, so they’re not surprised,” he said.

At the Dec. 8 council meeting, Salvatore said he was not in favor of marijuana use, but believed Cromwell would lose a 3% sales tax as surrounding communities allow retail.

A recommendation was made to the Cromwell Planning and Zoning Commission to consider limiting cannabis establishments to commercial and industrial areas of freeways and prohibiting its use in residential, mixed-use or commercial mixed-use areas.

Councilman James Demetriades solicited public comment on his Facebook page ahead of the meeting. He said the consensus was that the ban “made sense”.

If approved, the order would mean that a marijuana dispensary would not be able to sell products at the Cromwell Farmers’ Market, for example, because it is located on city property, the councilor explained.

The ban, however, does not extend to commercial properties, an issue that will need to be addressed later by members of the zoning commission, Demetriades said.

When the state legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the legislation was also “married” to tobacco use, the adviser added. “If you ban one, you have to ban the other. You can’t ban marijuana except tobacco.

For example, lighting a cigarette or consuming cannabis at a football game is now illegal, he said.

Without the right-of-way wording, the ban would “effectively prohibit people from smoking on sidewalks or in their vehicles while driving on city roads,” Demetriades said.

Of course, smoking or vaping marijuana while driving is illegal, he said.

Youth Services Administrator Katelynn Kelly Puorro sent a letter to council in support of the ban, expressing concerns about second-hand smoke, Demetriades said.

“They had reported preliminary studies on vaping health and vaping exhaust as well.”

At the previous council meeting, members voted unanimously to allow recreational dispensaries and all sales of cannabis-like substances in town, Salvatore said. This action will eventually go to the Planning and Zoning Commission and then to the Office of Planning and Development to develop related regulations.

Connecticut municipalities have taken similar steps, such as Middletown, where leaders approved the cultivation and sale of marijuana in August.


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