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Monday, April 23 Local

Year-long pot dispensary moratorium granted

Any plans for a medical marijuana dispensary in town will be put on hold after the Darien Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a year-long moratorium Tuesday.

The moratorium will start Sunday, March 9.

However, the commission may not need the full year, according to Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg.

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The commission asked that Ginsberg report back in September with more information regarding how other communities that have approved the dispensaries are handling them.

There was no comment from the public, according to Ginsberg, who then closed the public hearing portion of the meeting.

Several towns in the surrounding areas -- such as New Canaan, Westport, Ridgefield and Trumbull -- have approved year-long moratoriums to delay making any decisions regarding the dispensaries.

Some towns, like Branford and Simsbury, have allowed medicinal manufacturers and dispensaries to start moving into town.

Ginsberg said no one has expressed interest with the department in establishing a dispensary in Darien.

Manufacturing in Darien is not allowed because there is no industrial zone, Ginsberg said.

Medical marijuana became law in Connecticut in 2012. Only those with a debilitating medical condition and a doctor's prescription will be able to purchase it, and only doctors who have been certified by the state may prescribe it.

Beginning Jan. 1, marijuana production facilities and dispensaries were allowed to open for business.

All the dispensaries, their owners and pharmacy technicians must be registered with the state. Each dispensary must have one licensed pharmacist on site at all times, according to the law.

There are 1,343 people eligible to purchase medical marijuana, with 337 of those residing in Fairfield County as of Nov. 18, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection.

State regulations include distance requirements between marijuana-related businesses and schools and churches, and call for security for both growing and dispensing operations. Officials said the requirements are among the strictest in the nation.

After proposals are accepted and researched, licenses for up to three growers and five dispensers will be awarded. By spring or summer, the first Connecticut-grown cannabis will reach dispensaries for patients who comply with the 11 eligible ailments.

The moratorium, Ginsberg said, would allow the town to ask questions of the state and observe how other towns handle the dispensaries.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews