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    Sunday, October 02, 2022

    Preston's prudent pot pause

    The Preston Planning and Zoning Commission made a wise decision when it decided to “take a breath” when it comes to accepting any applications for the growing or retail sale of recreational cannabis, newly legalized in Connecticut.

    Those were the apt words used by commission member Michael Sinko in explaining the rationale for the commission’s six-month moratorium on cannabis establishments. As a town of less than 25,000 residents, Preston can approve one retailer and one grower. But the details of how legal cannabis will otherwise be regulated in Connecticut are still being developed.

    Remember, this small town has one of the world’s largest casinos within its borders, Foxwoods. A well-placed cannabis store could find plenty of business among the thousands of Foxwoods patrons. As resident Andrew Sawyer noted, the permit for that one retail outlet will have major value. He questioned whether Preston could capitalize on that, perhaps by auctioning it off or negotiating a share of the revenue. At this point, that is unclear — all the more reason for Preston to take time to evaluate.

    Adding to the intrigue, there are published reports that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe that owns and operates Foxwoods is interested in opening a dispensary. But given that cannabis remains a major illegal drug under federal law, it seems unlikely the federally recognized tribe could allow sales on its reservation. So, might the tribe be in competition for that one retail permit? According to a tribal spokesperson, the “Tribe is exploring all of the options created by the legislation.”

    Town Planner Kathy Warzecha said the commission, and other town officials, will be given regular updates between now and March 20, 2022, when the moratorium ends. Good idea, because there is likely to be some important, unprecedented decisions to make.

    The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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