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Firm To Seek OK for Middletown Medical Marijuana Plant

Fairfield company set to propose leasing part of the city-owned Remington Rand warehouse for use as a production facility.

Firm To Seek OK for Middletown Medical Marijuana Plant Firm To Seek OK for Middletown Medical Marijuana Plant

To let them grow, or not to let them grow?

That will be the question before Middletown's Common Council at its July 1 meeting, where a Fairfield-based firm plans to apply for permission to lease 15,000 square feet of the city-owned Remington Rand building to grow medical marijuana pending the state legislature's approval of detailed new regulations.

The council will be asked at the meeting to approve a lease with Greenbelt Management at 180 Johnson Street — the former Remington Rand warehouse — in anticipation of state approval of the new regulations and contingent on the firm being awarded one of the 3 to 10 licenses that would be issued by the Department of Consumer Protection. According to Greenbelt's website, "recent legislation in Connecticut allowing for three or more MMJ producer licenses … poses an exciting opportunity to bring new industry vitality to the state."

Remington Rand's tenants include a diverse mix of businesses, including several fitness studios, a custom motorcycle builder, landscaping companies and an automated mail processor. Soon, Stubborn Beauty Brewery will open and both Sow Fresh Organics and Forest City Brewery have applied to Middletown's zoning board for leases in the former Keating Wheel Co. and typewriter factory, which was built in 1896.

While Greenbelt Management's website offers little information, it does state the company "intends to develop a 'green-minded' facility which will rely, at least in part, on alternative energy." The Secretary of the State's office indicates that Greenbelt, whose principal partner is listed as Jason Nickerson of Fairfield, became a limited liability company in December 2012.

If Middletown's council approves the lease, the chief of police will then be asked to review security plans and specifications, and Greenbelt will be on the hook to pay a nonrefundable $25,000 deposit to the city.  

Two years ago, the state decriminalized marijuana, making possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana in Connecticut punishable by a ticket and a fine for those over age 21.

Last October, it became legal in Connecticut to buy and sell marijuana for medicinal purposes. Connecticut's 76-page Revised Regulation Concerning Palliative Use of Marijuana details a highly regulated licensing system and must be submitted by legislators to the General Assembly's Regulation Review Committee.

According to state Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein, the regulations will most likely appear on the agenda for the committee's August meeting. If approved, the state would then issue a call for applications that would include the total number of licenses expected to be given.

Just last week, a Colorado man who owns a company called  Theraplant announced he's hoping to obtain one of the marijuana-grower licenses in Connecticut and plans to purchase a 63,443-square-foot building that used to be an industrial paint factory in the Watertown Industrial Park,  according to the Hartford Courant. 

For its part, the federal government holds that there is "no such thing as 'medical' marijuana." According to whitehouse.gov, marijuana is a "Schedule 1" substance with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. 

Still, 18 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) and the District of Columbia have passed medical-marijuana legislation. Pressure is increasing on the federal government to soften its view, however.

On June 17, seven Democratic legislators signed a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for him to "exercise his discretionary authority" in light of Washington and Colorado voters recently joining 16 other states in legalizing medical marijuana.

"During a time of constrained federal resources, we believe the Department of Justice has higher priorities than the pursuit of legal action against persons in compliance with the laws of the states," reads the document, which was signed by Sens. Maria Cantwell (Washington) and Patty Murray (District of Columbia), and state of Washington Reps. Adam Smith, Jim McDermott, Danny Heck, Suzan DelBene and Derek Kilmer.

Other states are following suit.

This week, the New Hampshire legislature may vote to become the 19th state to allow marijuana for medical reasons, according to the Boston Globe. And in Florida, if a petition drive seeking 700,000 signatures is successful, an 'MMJ' question will appear on ballots next year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.


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