New Haven alders OK rules for retail cannabis

Photo of Mark Zaretsky
Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison, D-22, speaks in favor of New Haven's proposed cannabis regulations on Aug. 1, 2022.

Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison, D-22, speaks in favor of New Haven's proposed cannabis regulations on Aug. 1, 2022.

Mark Zaretsky / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW HAVEN — The city is closer to retail recreational cannabis sales with the Board of Alders’ overwhelming approval of zoning text amendments governing where cannabis and cannabis products can be sold, as well as where they can be consumed.

Just don’t expect your “neighborhood” pot store to actually be in your neighborhood — or open next week.

The state has yet to say when adult recreational-use cannabis retail establishments can open, beyond the fact that it’s shooting to get the system up and running by the end of this year.

Municipalities looking to host cannabis retail establishments must pass zoning regulations to govern their operation. At least 38 municipalities have issued moratoriums and 16 have prohibited the opening of retail cannabis businesses within their borders.

The regulations that the alders approved allow one cannabis retail establishment for every 25,000 people — a total of five for the entire city. That was the one amendment added to the legislation Monday night. It was approved unanimously.

The rules also limit dispensing and sales of cannabis and cannabis products to certain commercial and industrial neighborhoods, one of which, Long Wharf, wasn’t originally on the list as a place marijuana dispensaries could be located.

Under the regulations, cannabis-related businesses will have to be at least 500 feet from the boundary of any school building and at least 1,500 feet from each other.

Applicants must apply for a special permit to locate a producer, dispensary facility, cultivator, micro-cultivator, retailer, hybrid retailer, food and beverage manufacturer or product packager in an zone where it is allowed.

Meanwhile, cannabis establishments are prohibited in residential districts, as well as in the following districts which are considered “overlay districts” to the New Haven Zoning Ordinance: the area covered by the River Street Municipal Development Plan, the Port District and the area covered by the Hill to Downtown Plan.

Nineteen of the 21 alders on the 30-member Board of Alders who attended Monday night’s regular board meeting in City Hall voted in favor of the amendments.

Two — Majority Leader Richard Furlow, D-27, whose ward includes parts of Westville, Amity and Beaver Hills, and Fair Haven Alder Jose Crespo, D-16 — were in the room but did not vote when their names were called.

Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison, D-22, spoke in favor of the text amendments.

“Adult cannabis use is real” and “it’s all over,” Morrison said. “This is something that can bring benefits for our city, for our constituents.” Passing the regulations is necessary in order to do that, she said.