‘Democracy Should Prevail': Simsbury Ban on Retail Cannabis Encourages Public Vote

The Simsbury Board of Selectmen voted this week to ban retail cannabis stores from opening in the town for the next 18 months, giving way to the chance for a referendum.

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Retail cannabis sales have been a hot topic throughout the state, with some towns still deciding the best course of action moving forward.

“Pandora’s Box is open. You’re not going to put it back in,” said Simsbury’s Jonathan Lawry.

When it comes to cannabis sales, Lawry has changed his tune, as the industry has now become legal in Connecticut.

“If it’s going to happen, then why not capture that revenue here?” Lawry asked.

It’s the discussion Simsbury residents, and the town's Board of Selectmen, have been having when it comes to whether or not retail cannabis stores should be allowed in town.

“Our board has had varying opinions on this and thoughts, and all are valid,” said Heather Goetz, who serves on Simsbury's Board of Selectmen.

The board has discussed and heard a range in thoughts from both town leaders and members of the community.

Simsbury First Selectman Wendy Mackstutis said it’s those discussions that led the board to a 4-2 vote in favor of banning retail cannabis sales for 18 months.

She said the ban allows time for additional planning as to where, or how many may be allowed, while also giving the people a chance to vote on the future of retail cannabis this November.

“Putting an 18 month moratorium on this, or ban, in place, it actually allows our residents to come forward, put a referendum in place, and let democracy prevail,” Goetz said.

Mackstutis acknowledged that cannabis already has a presence in Simsbury’s economy, with the medicinal and recreational cannabis manufacturing company, Curaleaf, located within the town limits.

“It’s a huge facility. I think they recently expanded, but they are a huge taxpayer for the town,” she said.

If retail sales were allowed, Mackstutis said the town would earn 3% of all sales.

“There are certain uses for it, but it’s not just for recovery, it can be used for education, I believe it can be used for public safety,” she said.

Others may disagree, but believe the voice of the people is what matters most.

“I do believe democracy should prevail, and I would like to see this go to referendum and let our residents have the final say on this,” Goetz said.

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