RTM rejects attempt to ban sale of recreational marijuana

Marijuana, which is classified by the Federal Government as a Schedule I drug, has been legalized by 11 states and Washington, DC in recent years. Many believe that Connecticut’s State Legislature will legalize it within the next few legislative sessions.

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Marijuana, which is classified by the Federal Government as a Schedule I drug, has been legalized by 11 states and Washington, DC in recent years. Many believe that Connecticut’s State Legislature will legalize it within the next few legislative sessions.

Andreas Lolis ’21, Paper News Editor

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The Westport Representative Town Meeting (RTM) voted down an ordinance that would ban the sale of recreational marijuana in Westport for two years if and when the state legalizes it.
Jimmy Izzo, RTM Member and Chair of the Public Protection Committee, introduced the ordinance along with RTM Member Greg Kraut. He says that its purpose was to protect Westport against a recreational dispensary being opening in the coming years.
“We felt the ordinance would give the town extra protection in terms of a possible text amendment coming before the planning and zoning commission in the next couple years to […] allow recreational sales,” he said.
Izzo is concerned that Green Thumb Industries may seek to open a recreational marijuana dispensary in Westport. The nearly $2 billion marijuana company recently acquired a stake in Bluepoint Wellness CT, a medical marijuana dispensary.
While he is in favor of medical marijuana stores, Izzo believes a recreational marijuana store will increase traffic, lower property values and adversely affect public safety.

We felt the ordinance would give the town extra protection in terms of a possible text amendment coming before the planning and zoning commission in the next couple years to […] allow recreational sales.”

— Jimmy Izzo, RTM Member and Chair of the Public Protection Committee

Opponents of the ordinance, such as Gary Lu ’21, believe that banning marijuana sales won’t accomplish the goal of stopping a recreational marijuana dispensary in Westport.
“I think the ordinance is pointless,” Lu said. “It’ll be completely ineffective once it’s passed legislatively, […] while I understand that traffic is a concern, I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as to [pass the ordinance].”
Proponents of the proposal disagree with Lu’s assessment. Izzo believes that passing the ordinance would enable the Town of Westport to take on potential marijuana sellers through the court system to prevent them from opening a dispensary. However, Izzo feels no animosity toward his fellow RTM members.
“I respect every member on the RTM. They all have their reasons for voting the way they do. I have no ill, but I do believe this is the right thing to do,” Izzo said.
First Selectman Jim Marpe agrees with the initiative of Izzo and Kraut, but believes that the RTM should wait for the State Legislature to take action on the issue.
“When and if the [Connecticut Legislature] approves the sale of recreational marihuana, then we can as a town decide how we want to proceed,” Marpe said. “And perhaps the place to do that is with our Planning and Zoning Commission, rather than with an ordinance from the RTM, but I’m sure we’ll have the time to figure that out.”

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