The future of cannabis in Cornwall will take a while longer to sort out. Since the state approved retail sales of recreational cannabis in 2021 and decided each municipality would make the call on permits and zoning, the first lottery for licenses was flooded with applications. Case in point: Two providers submitted 800 applications each! As a result, the state has imposed a moratorium on releasing additional licenses until November 1, 2023. That delay is buying Cornwall’s Planning and Zoning Committee time to consult with residents before taking up questions such as where, when, and how much.

P&Z circulated a survey in the spring asking for opinions on different types of licenses, from cultivation to processing to retail sales. One hundred seventy-one people responded, and the majority said they were open to allowing some legal weed. According to P&Z Chair Anna Timell, responses ranged from 54 to 64 percent in favor and 32 to 40 percent against, with the narrowest gap on cultivators and the widest on retailers. In other words, respondents were more favorably disposed to letting people sell cannabis than grow it.

In comments, those favoring retail sales cited new jobs, increased traffic for other businesses, and increased revenue from the town’s three-percent cut on sales. Those favoring cultivation noted the opportunity to revitalize dormant farmland, while concerns included pollution, odor, noise, and intense water use. Complete survey results are available on the town website.

Timell said she would ask the state for additional time beyond November 1 to seek more input. In the meantime, as of July 1, 2023, people aged 21 and older can legally grow six cannabis plants for personal use, just not out in the open.

 —Kerry Donahue