Cannabis entrepreneurs eye North Haven. But are residents on board? – New Haven Register

He would love to open a retail facility in North Haven, where he lives. But he may be up against a challenge: in a public input session Monday, when entrepreneurs like Frytz shared their aspirations with the Planning & Zoning Commission, a group of residents spoke against allowing any kind of recreational cannabis establishments in town.

Like towns across the state, North Haven is weighing how to regulate recreational cannabis. Frytz was invited to the meeting to answer questions about the cannabis industry, he said, and not with the goal of swaying commissioners one way or the other.

But while North Haven is not currently included in the plan for his business, White Oak Apothecary, Frytz would love to open a retail location in town, he said.

He’s not the only interested party. Dave Melillo, a North Haven-based Realtor, represents a group looking to open a cultivation operation in Connecticut, he told the New Haven Register in an email.

Melillo also attended the commission meeting. While he did not have a site in mind, he told attendees, he had come to see what North Haven might allow.

Also present was Jamie Campbell, who introduced himself as the representative of a Massachusetts-based cannabis retailer. His business was looking for expansion opportunities in Connecticut, he said.

Frytz also envisions a regional business, and he believes North Haven’s location could help realize that dream.

“North Haven is in a unique position because 91 runs through the majority of the town, and 91 is a corridor to half of New England,” he said. “I want to have that visibility. I want to have that ability to hit consumers anywhere in New England.”

Frytz also argued the business would benefit the town economically. According to the state website, cannabis will be subject to three sales taxes: “the state’s usual 6.35 percent sales tax, a 3 percent sales tax dedicated to the city or town where the sale occurs, and a tax based on THC content that will cost approximately 10 to 15 percent of the sale price.”

But as enthusiastic as Frytz is about his new project, some residents are pushing back.

“Please vote to prohibit … cannabis establishments in the town of North Haven,” Mary White said during the input session, which was held over Zoom.

She went on to list a number of concerns she had about cannabis. It is illegal federally, she said.

White also worried it would put more impaired drivers on the road and argued such establishments would be bad for public health and safety.

Others echoed her concerns.

“Why make it convenient (for our young people) to get their hands on this drug?” asked a woman who introduced herself as Leonda Fermo. “Please vote no…the people in North Haven, do they really wanna be complicit in the destruction of our young people?”

“I really hope that this is turned down because this is not who North Haven is,” another attendee said. “We’re better than this. We don’t need this.”

Frytz believes part of the problem is that the decades-long war on drugs has stigmatized marijuana, he said. And unlike alcohol, Frytz said, marijuana can’t kill you.

“I hope that North Haven, you know, tries to be a little more open-minded,” he said.

So far, more than 40 percent of Connecticut towns have banned cannabis sales.

meghan.friedmann@hearstmediact.com

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