Block: Trumbull lacks leadership on marijuana dispensaries – CTPost

TRUMBULL — Republican first selectman candidate Mark Block criticized the town’s administration for its handling of the recently passed moratorium on recreational marijuana sales Monday.

Block said First Selectman Vicki Tesoro had lacked forceful leadership in calling for the moratorium that the Planning & Zoning Commission passed at its Aug. 18 meeting. Had he been in charge, he would have handled things differently, he said.

“The first thing I would have done was, I would have been in touch with our state representatives, and I would have had some very lengthy conversations with them. And I would have been very clear as to what my position would be for our community,” Block said.

While Tesoro characterized the moratorium as a non-political issue, Block pointed out that the action came just three months before the November election.

“Because we’re in an election year, and everything in an election year is a political issue. That’s (political science) 101 by the way. So everything becomes a political issue,” he said.

It’s unclear, though what Tesoro could have done differently. A long-time advocate against youth substance abuse, Tesoro said she’s wary of any impact a dispensary would have on children.

“To say that I would be reactive to anything dealing with either underage drinking or drugs is simply unconscionable to make a statement like that, as far as I’m concerned, based on my background in this community,” Tesoro said.

The legislature passed the bill June 17, and Gov. Ned Lamont signed it June 22. It went into effect July 1, with a built-in prohibition on retail sale until mid-2022. Tesoro called for a one-year moratorium on non-medical marijuana dispensaries in town on Aug. 6, and the Planning & Zoning Commission approved it Aug. 18. The commission did not meet in July.

Block has argued that he would have anticipated the impact the bill would have on the town and would have looked at ways to mitigate the risks a dispensary would have on children.

“This is not a party issue. This is a health and safety issue. And I believe that we have an obligation to use our collective voices in ensuring that our youth are as protected as possible,” he said.

The moratorium has been backed by both TPAUD, a Trumbull prevention group formerly known as the Trumbull Partnership Against Underage Drinking, and the Trumbull Police Department. It is set to expire in September, a few months after the sale of cannabis can begin in Connecticut.

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