[OPINION] RTMers: Why We Voted Against Recreational Marijuana Ban

Earlier this month, the Representative Town Meeting considered an ordinance to ban the sale of recreational marijuana in Westport. (Currently, only medical marijuana is legal in Connecticut.) The motion was defeated, 18-16, after more than 3 hours of debate.

After the vote, 14 RTM members who voted against the proposal sent this email to “06880”:

Westport’s most recent RTM meeting included consideration of an ordinance that sought to ban the sale of recreational marijuana, despite the fact that it is already – and remains — illegal in Connecticut and Westport.

For reasons that persuaded the majority of the RTM, any ordinance passed in anticipation of a future state decriminalization statute would be speculative, premature, and passed now for no reason that could achieve even a modicum of extra protection for the town of Westport.

As explained below, it turned out that the proposed legislation was deeply flawed and poorly conceived.

Some states have legalized marijuana based on the view that legalization could ensure that the ingredients are standardized to make it safer, so it is not cut with unsafe or excessively strong or dangerous ingredients. Connecticut, other states, and the federal government have been considering whether the laws should be changed.

A variety of medical marijuana edibles.

Many states have permitted an opt-out provision, permitting individual towns to decide to limit retail sales.

To date, the versions of the marijuana decriminalization legislation submitted to the Connecticut legislature also included local opt-out provisions for retail sales.

The RTM’s final debate on this proposed ordinance to ban retail sales of marijuana made it clear that there is significant desire to restrict or prevent the sale of recreational marijuana retail sales in our town when, and if, a decriminalization statute is passed.

However, under no scenario would any such decriminalization statute afford any Connecticut town the right to make marijuana illegal for use. The legal concept of state preemption of municipal and town ordinances would clearly prohibit that.

The town attorney spoke at the RTM meeting and provided his opinion that the proposed ordinance, as written, was problematic. He was unable to testify in support of the petitioners’ defective ordinance. He noted that, under the law, there is something called the preemption doctrine, which means that any state law would preempt a town ordinance that contradicts it.  So, for instance, if the state legalizes marijuana, there is nothing Westport can do to make it illegal.

However, if the state statute expressly permits towns to decide how many retail stores for marijuana there should be or whether there should be any at all, then towns such as Westport would be empowered and permitted to limit or prohibit retail sales.

Moreover, there is typically a period of time between when a state statute is passed, and when it becomes enacted and has the force of law.  With respect to the legalization of marijuana, in Connecticut, it is anticipated that there will be an 18-month to 2-year interregnum between passage and enactment.  This will give Westport plenty of time to evaluate what the new law says, and how Westport can protect itself with the right kind of ordinance.

Passing such an ordinance now, however, is a bit like shadow boxing; we really have nothing to swing at and hit, as the legislation we are trying to address has not been passed yet.

Moreover, given that we will be afforded abundant time to address retail sales in the event the decriminalization statute is passed, before it becomes enacted into law, it makes no sense to swing in the blind now.  We have insufficient details about what the eventual decriminalization legislation would say, and/or whether it will even pass.  Therefore, any attempt to pass legislation in such a knowledge vacuum would result in a potentially deeply flawed and inaccurate ordinance.

That is not how responsible RTM legislators should proceed.

An ordinance is a law, so it must be legally viable. Some RTMers who voted for this ordinance said they recognized that it would be completely ineffective, but thought it would be “symbolic.”

Legislators who take their role seriously cannot pass legislation that they know to be ineffective and unenforceable, simply because it “feels good.” Symbolic votes are preserved for “sense of the meeting” votes; they should not be used for legislation.

At the hearing, the petitioners also acknowledged their proposed ordinance was flawed when they realized it accidentally outlawed a derivative substance, CBD, that is perfectly legal.

Additionally, the ordinance had what many perceived to be due process problems.  Instead of permitting the police to issue a citation for a violation and then a hearing with all afforded due process rights in court, the proposal politicized the process, permitting a politically elected official, the first selectman, to appoint a hearing officer – even a biased one — to be the judge and jury.

The “officer” would not have to have any legal background or expertise or even personal qualifications, would not have to follow the Connecticut Rules of Evidence or Civil Procedure, would not be required to be objective and unbiased, and the ordinance provided no means to seek recusal for bias or conflict of interest, etc.

Westporters believe in due process rights, and in protecting the legal rights of all, including the falsely accused, as well as the properly accused. This weakness in the petitioners’ proposed ordinance needs to be changed to permit the accused to have any violation citation to be initially heard in court, given the serious reputational and career harm to be had from such a citation for narcotics sales.

As a result of these shortcomings, the RTM did not pass this ordinance last week. However, with the right ordinance — without so many legal and due process flaws – brought forth when and if the state actually passes the decriminalization statute, the RTM may then (more appropriately) revisit this issue.

Many of the 18 members who voted against this particular ordinance are not opposed to a ban on retail sales of recreational marijuana in Westport, but recognized that, as our town attorney explained, this poorly constructed ordinance would not be legally viable.

Westport has already restricted the sale of marijuana.  The town’s Planning & Zoning Commission put in place strict zoning regulations that allow only the sale of medical marijuana in specific places. This highly proscriptive zoning restriction does not allow for recreational sales at these places. Despite scare tactics to the contrary, there is no mechanism for the approved medical facilities to suddenly become recreational facilities if the state were to permit the sale of recreational usage.

Whether you are for or opposed to the statewide legalization of recreational marijuana, you can rest assured that we RTMers will fight hard to ensure that we have a say as to whether it is something that we want here in Westport.

Once the statewide legal status is sorted out, the RTM will consider a better-crafted ordinance. For the time being, however, we must all remember that recreational marijuana is still illegal here and in all of Connecticut. Scare tactics aside, there is zero doubt that, should that legal status change in the future, Westport will have more than ample time to pass any necessary, legally permissible, local legislation.

Seth Braunstein
Andrew Collabella
Arline Gertzoff
Wendy Goldwyn Batteau
Kristan Hamlin
Richard Jaffe
Amy Kaplan
Nicole Klein
Ellen Lautenberg
Sal Liccione
Matthew Mandell
Carla Rea
Lauren Soloff
Cathy Talmadge

27 responses to “[OPINION] RTMers: Why We Voted Against Recreational Marijuana Ban

  1. Seth Braunstein

    Thanks Dan

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Thoroughly and comprehensibly explained. Thank you.

  3. I have enormous respect for all my colleagues on the RTM, and I was impressed with what a civil and respectful debate we were able to have on such a potentially contentious issue. But as someone who voted in favor of the ordinance and who sits on the Ordinance Committee of the RTM that reviewed and recommended modifications to the language several times before the meeting, I have to set the record straight on some of the points contained here. Assertions about preemption were introduced after 9 pm on the evening of the debate when their sources and veracity could not be definitively addressed; the town attorney present that evening had not participated in any of the conversations about the ordinance leading up to the full RTM meeting. The Ordinance Committee was advised by the town attorneys’ office throughout the process; the question of preemption, and more broadly of the relationship of this ordinance to an as-yet non-existent state law (an unusual situation, to be sure), was discussed. We were assured there was no reason we could not pass this ordinance; pre-emption is not automatic, and we would have the opportunity to revise any provisions that came into conflict with any eventual state law. While existing versions of state marijuana legalization legislation contain opt-out provisions, there is no guarantee a law that was actually passed would have such a provision or what it would say.

    The argument about regulated markets and products being an assurance of safety is a tenuous one. If this were an important motivation for legalization, we would be on our way to legalizing heroine and other controlled substances as well. Opioids are highly regulated, and look where that has landed us.

    The question of whether the ordinance would prohibit sales of CBD products was also raised close to midnight and could not be dispositively addressed. CBD products are legal in the state of CT, they are no longer defined as controlled substances, so the ordinance, which relies on CT’s definition of marijuana as a controlled substance, would not have prohibited their sale. The enforcement language in the ordinance was modeled on enforcement language in other town ordinances.

    The majority of municipalities in states that have legalized marijuana have prohibited sales within their boundaries. More importantly, dozens of towns in New Jersey have passed pre-emptive bans on recreational sales of marijuana, sending what I believe is a strong and important message to the state that its residents do not want legalization. Perhaps part of the reason states with legalized marijuana are falling far short of their revenue projections is that the majority of towns don’t allow its sale. They have not been listening to their citizens in the pursuit of dollars to fill the budget holes they’ve dug themselves with decades of bad decisions.

    I also take passing legislation very seriously, or I wouldn’t be serving on the RTM and its ordinance committee. And I take very seriously the responsibility for preserving the safety of Westport’s residents, particularly its children, and serving as a representative of their interests and views.

    Hopefully as a result of this debate, Hartford will hear loud and clear that Westport residents do not want marijuana sold within its boundaries. Unfortunately, we missed an opportunity to be a leader in this debate, not a follower.

    Kristin Schneeman, Member, RTM District 9

    • I’m hopeful you know that you are not speaking for all Westport residents when you say we “do not want marijuana sold within its boundaries”.

      I’m not yet certain what my position is. I see both the pros and cons of legalizing recreational marijuana, just as I see both the pros and cons of being a ‘dry’ town should Connecticut ultimately decide to join Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and other states in decriminalizing it.
      (I should point out I am 100% in favor of the fact that we have allowed a medical marijuana dispensary here.)

      I’m fairly sure I’m not alone.
      It would be interesting, though, to poll all adult Westport residents to find out.

      • Kristin Schneeman

        India, I do appreciate that there is not unanimity on this issue. We certainly heard from a preponderance of residents who were in favor of the ordinance, but I recognize that many others were unaware of the debate and/or have different views. I also am supportive of having a medical marijuana dispensary in town, and this ordinance would not have changed the fact that we do have one. It also would not have made use of recreational marijuana illegal in Westport, should the state legalize, just its sale.

    • Joseph Carpenter

      Kristin – well stated.
      I just emailed the four Westport legislators and copied the RTM on my concerns about the possible passage of recreational marijuana in CT. I asked our legislators to please include in future legislation language such as
      a 2019 proposed bill sHB7371, line 392 – indicates a town may prohibit the establishment of…a cannabis establishment within the limits of such town. Also, line 397 – stating the commission shall refuse licenses to cannabis establishments for locations in towns that have opted out…

      I believe the preemptive ordinance is very important based on bills presented to CT legislators in early 2019. Rep. D’Agostino (a Hamden Democrat and co-chairman of the general law committee), quoted in the Hartford Courant, March 14, 2019, “If the bills clear the General Assembly this session…a retail marijuana pilot program could begin by the end of the year”. Also stated by D’Agostino in The Patch, March 15, 2019:
      “…allow current medical marijuana retailers to sell recreationally on a temporary basis until the roll out of the recreational regulation program”.
      YES! A preemptive ordinance will prevent the immediate sale upon passage of a CT bill of recreational marijuana in Westport!! The sooner the better!!

      Let’s clean up a few items discussed at the RTM meeting that may need clarification. Then let’s pass it!

      Joseph Carpenter
      Westport resident
      Retired physician

      • Bart Shuldman

        It will happen. CT will need the tax dollars. Just watch. The argument will be other states around CT will take CT’s money. Instead of fixing the budget this will be the next phase of collecting more taxes as Lamont knows raising income taxes will force more to leave. He was told.

        Grocery taxes was just the beginning. All supported by the Westport legislators.

        Watch and see.

        Bart Shuldman

  4. I’d like to point out prior to this debate, a mass email with a whole bunch of fear mongering was sent out spamming about 200 or so emails that only targeted people who…. follow fear tactics. If we do a town wide anonymous poll I guarantee you will see that more of the town is pro legalization with safety protecals. I’m tired of RTMers telling the town what they want, it’s not up to them. 36RTMers 9 districts, 4 in each, your job is to take care of your districts and do as your constituents want you to do. Most of the people in the town new nothing about this, seems like a half baked plan to get some names in the paper pre elections to “show” something got done…We dont have time for this waste of resources and peoples time anymore. Just wait until I’m in, Tj Elgin candidate RTM District 1! Times are changing 🐺

  5. So many times the RTM votes a ‘sense of the meeting’. It would have been good to see all RTM members at least voting in that form and to see who really does not to support recreational marijuana coming to Westport. Just a thought.

  6. It fshouldn’t be

    Get Outlook for iOS ________________________________

  7. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70 BA, MA, JDE

    A vice is never a vice as long as the government, politicians (or their sons) receive a cut.

  8. Arline Gertzoff

    We will have sufficient time to opt out of recreational marijuana if and when the state approves it.CBD is legal in all fifty states.
    The best remarks of the night were from a Staples student who told it like it is.
    I had many concerns about the enforcement clauses as well.

  9. Thank you Kristin Schneeman for the thoughtful explanation of your vote and the issues around this controversial ordinance. All 36 RTMers had their votes and the right to their own points of view but I find the tone of this opinion piece and explanation condescending, rude and unnecessary. The RTM members who brought the ordinance forth had their opinions, did their own extensive research, and worked diligently for many months for what they believe to be right for Westport. Many town residents agreed and almost half the RTM voted for it. Calling the ordinance “deeply flawed, inaccurate, not responsible etc.” was not necessary and not the way members of this non-partisan town body should act towards its own members.

  10. Ellen Lautenberg

    As an RTM member who signed this letter, I would like to address a couple of the things mentioned here.

    FIrst – I do not believe that anyone that voted against the ordinance did so because they would like to see recreational marijuana sold in Westport – at least that is true of myself – and at least for quite a lengthy period of time after it becomes legal potentially at some point down the road. However, I do believe, as was said in one of the comments above, perhaps a different vehicle, like a “Sense of the Meeting” would have more appropriate at this time.
    Second, although we did not all agree on the exact language of this letter as time was of the essence, and it would have been tough to do with so many signatories (some of the language WAS changed upon request), the primary reason I signed was to offer a legal explanation for our vote. I do regret that it was perceived by any RTM members that worked on and supported the ordinance, that it sounded like we were saying their efforts or intentions were not appreciated or that they did a bad job. I don’t feel that way at all.
    Third, any notion of partisanship was non-existent, at least for myself. I was very conflicted as to how I was going to vote up until the last minute. I did want to support the thinking behind the ordinance but ultimately determined it would provide constituents with a false sense of security as I thought it was premature and perhaps not the right vehicle to really address the issue.
    Finally, I truly believe that all members of the RTM voted their conscience in a non-partisan way. It was not an easy vote. I applaud those that worked diligently on the ordinance and told them so after the meeting. But I do object to the notion that the signers of this letter did so in order to belittle or criticize their efforts.

  11. Robert Harrington

    I find this letter to be unfortunate and highly defensive. I am good friends with many on this list who signed the letter here and they are great people and work hard for Westport. I have zero issue with any of them personally. I respect them. Collectively they do great things for Westport.

    However, I think this letter is patronizing and condescending to the sponsors / petitioners of this ordinance (who they didn’t bother to name) and to those who supported it from the RTM.

    Jimmy and Greg – thanks for your efforts and to all those who supported the ordinance and the many public members who came out to support it.

    It was narrowly defeated.

    There is not one constructive sentence in this long letter towards those sponsoring this ordinance – or supporting it. This was one small thing to deal with the growing drug problem in our community.

    I have zero issue with people who voted against this ordinance. I do have a problem with this unfair letter. I am glad it was somewhat toned down versus the original. I can only assume that many whom signed this letter wanted to defend their vote but probably don’t fully agree with the tone or all the words used.

    I question how wise it was to sign a letter worded like this.

    Phrases such as “deeply flawed”, “poorly conceived” are unfortunate at the very least. The explicit line in the letter, “this is not how responsible RTM legislators should proceed” is highly offensive to your other RTM colleagues. Finally – the part that states, “legislators who take their role seriously” … is rude and unkind to hard working RTM members. I think you ALL take your roles seriously.

    The letter unfairly refers to the town attorney at times and Kristin S is correct to point this out. It also fails to refer to town leadership – Jim Marpe and Jen Tooker who clearly are supportive of this ordinance.

    This may not have been the answer for you all. I have zero problem with that. But to frame those who tried to do one small thing in this way is wholly unfortunate.

    Perhaps if there were so many flaws and technical issues with this ordinance many of these smart RTM members that called them out just before the vote could have raised many of these earlier in the process to make it better.

    I do believe that many people that signed this letter DON’T really support recreational weed/THC sales. I do think Rep Steinberg’s intervention emailing RTM members on the day of the vote stating, “ This is now simply political grandstanding” made this seem more partisan. For many I know it was not. I strongly supported Rep Steinberg in his last election. He is a good friend. I would support him again. This does NOT change that. However, to those acting with positive intent here and supporting this ordinance – this was not “political grandstanding”.

    It seems for now – at least on this narrow part of a complicated issue – Westport is now going to sit and wait for Hartford to show its hand.

    Westport must find other ways to lead on this broader issue of drugs and vaping.

    I look forward to seeing other alternative ways Westport’s RTM will bring forward ideas to tackle this important issue. To those that signed this letter, or those that supported this ordinance – the broader drug and vaping issue is very complicated. We all need to work together – trying many different things to prepare our community and youth to deal better with a growing problem.

  12. Jay Walshon MD FACEP

    Robert Harrington’s reply was exactly on point in every respect. This “Opinion” letter was highly offensive and condescending to those RTM members who worked long and hard to address a significant important controversial issue facing out Town. Their proposed ordinance was not drafted in a day, a week or even a month. This took a long time, and with the advice & input of many intelligent and caring people. It was also offensive, insulting and patronizing to those members of the public who supported this ordinance, and continued to support it despite the legal assertions & opinions that were presented.

    Despite Ellen’s attempt to walk the tone and content of this letter back, this piece speaks for itself. Perhaps she should read it again.

    What is also quite upsetting is that this letter was completely unnecessary. These signators already used their RTM podium to make these points. Presenting this again in this manner appears to be nothing more than a premeditated “defense” of their vote. That it comes only a few weeks before election day adds to that feeling.

    Using this forum in this manner for this purpose feels distasteful and cowardly as it removed the meaningful discussion and debate from the opposing voices who are equally dedicated to doing what’s right for the Town we all love. The insulting, condescending and paternalistic language is regrettable – particularly from the many RTM members who I respect and admire for their dedication to our Town.

    At the combined RTM P&Z/Public Safety subcommittee meeting, one RTM member actually told Greg and Jimmy that their proposed ordinance “was a complete waste of everyone’s time.” 16 RTM members and many Town residents take exception to that insulting characterization. However that is STILL the actual “message” being proferred in this “Opinion” piece.

    FACT: Despite there not being an enacted marijuana law in NJ and NY, already over 40 Towns and municipalities in NJ have enacted prohibitions similar to or even more draconian than the ordinance proposed by Greg and Jimmy, and North Hempstead LI has already done the same. What Greg and Jimmy have proposed is not “groundbreaking” by any means and is something that many many Towns have been doing “preemptively” because they all felt strongly that this was THE RIGHT THING TO DO for their communities, as well as BEING WHAT THEIR RESIDENTS WANTED. Therefore I imagine that the above signators similarly categorize those many local NJ and LI governments, attorneys and residents as being “deeply flawed”, “ill-conceived”, “irresponsible” and “superficial”.

    Which brings me to my last 2 points. Not once in the RTM discussion, debate and dialogue that evening did I hear any of the RTM members clearly state how their district constituents wanted them to vote on this important matter. Not one. Instead we heard personal opinions, legal suppositions & assertions, loud forceful oratory and pontifications – but no actual representation of the majority voice of their Westport constituents.

    There were some brave members of the public who provided their opinion within the severely truncated time permitted the public, and several hundred emails were referenced. Rep. Steinberg’s perspective and assumptions were presented. However not one RTM member stated that he/she represented the wishes of their constituents and none voted the direction of their community.

    Because a referendum on such important matters is virtually impossible in this Town, the Westport residents rely upon the RTM for THEIR VOICES to not only heard at the podium, but to be truly represented during these votes. There was ample time prior to this meeting for this to have occurred – it only required the desire to do so. So once again we have the RTM voting their own personal opinions or biases rather than truly representing their constituents desires. It seems that they believe Westport’s residents are too disinterested, too ignorant or too uneducated to provide them with “proper” guidance. Paternalism at its best.

    Finally, had Westport followed the lead of the many other Towns and municipalities in states where marijuana laws are being considered but not yet enacted, Westport could have provided a lead for many of Connecticut’s other 168 Connecticut Towns & cities to follow. I imagine that if even 50 of the 169 preemptively passed similar ordinances, when Hartford deliberated any marijuana legislation it will be far more difficult for them to eradicate any opt out clause (which is not a certainty) – and it might just be sufficient messaging to Hartford legislators that recreational marijuana is simply not welcome in Connecticut.

    That would NOT be merely symbolic.

    Going forward I believe that we need to have a series of unbiased educational forums to finally address the myths and anecdotes being disseminated, as well as the truths and facts that are currently available. It would also be “groundbreaking” to have the residents of Westport actually decide this issue.

    Jay M Walshon MD FACEP

    • Robert Harrington

      Thanks Jay. We can’t rely on lawyers to fix our drug problem or make a dent in it. We need a broader community effort. Too many excuses in this specific situation).

  13. Kristan Hamlin, RTM #4

    Respectfully, you are not correct. While the below response may seem like a lot of legalese, an ordinance is a law. It goes without saying that a law should be legal. The majority of RTM lawyers voted against this proposal.

    This does not mean Jimmy’s and Greg’s efforts are for naught. It got the conversation started, and when and if decriminalization legislation is passed, we can take up the discussion again, and stand on the shoulders of the efforts and conversation that have already occurred.

    As to your point about NJ and NY, they are, indisputably, different states from that of CT, with different state laws on preemption. Here is a state-by state summary on one preemption issue (gun sales), for your reading enjoyment.

    Legally, a municipality cannot preempt a state law with a piece of local legislation, simply because it was passed before the state law. 

    Unlike the federal/state preemption doctrine (which is different because of the Tenth Amendment and principles of federalism), CT municipalities have no source of power other than what the state permits them under *Chapter 98, the Home Rule Act.  [See: 2018 Connecticut General Statutes Title 7 – Municipalities, Chapter 98* – Municipal Powers* “Municipalities have “only powers expressly conferred upon it by general statutes or by special act and those which are fairly to be implied as necessary to carry into effect powers expressly given; municipalities cannot enact ordinances contrary to public policy of state as declared in state legislation. 147 C. 60.  … Towns can exercise no powers except such as have been expressly granted to them or by fair implication conferred upon them by state. 21 CS 347.”]

    CT towns and municipalities cannot pass legislation that is inconsistent with, or contradicts, what the state permits or prohibits, unless the state has granted the municipalities the right to do so (like with the potential opt-out provision). See, Conn. Supreme court decision in Dwyer v. Farrell, 193 Conn. 7 (Conn. 1984). https://casetext.com/case/dwyer-v-farrell-1 ( Striking down ordinance because “the ordinance effectively prohibits what the state statutes clearly permit. “)
    “A local ordinance is preempted by a state statute whenever the legislature has demonstrated an intent to occupy the entire field of regulation on the matter; East Haven v. New Haven, 159 Conn. 453, 469 (1970); or, as here, whenever the local ordinance irreconcilably conflicts with the statute. Shelton v. City of Shelton, 111 Conn. 433, 447 (1930). Accord, Times Mirror Co. v. Division of Public Utility Control, 192 Conn. 506, 511 (1984).” 

    Therefore, had the RTM passed this proposed legislation, it would have done nothing to preclude the state from legalizing marijuana.  If the state allows retail sales, it will happen here in Westport (short of P&Z encumbrances), unless the state provides an opt-out provision, expressly allowing municipalities to prohibit retail sales in their towns.  In short, a town cannot prohibit what the state expressly allows, unless the state gives the towns permission to vary.

    Apparently you think it’s smart, despite the CT doctrine of preemption, to pass a law to make something illegal, when the state has already made it illegal, because you speculate that the CT state govt may decriminalize it in the future. But without first knowing what the state will allow or disallow the municipal governments to do, acting now could potentially cause us to stumble into a minefield of preemption issues once we learn what the new statute says, and to have to get involved in elaborate time-consuming amendments.
    You are probably a knowledgeable doctor. But I would prefer to defer to the group of lawyers/judges at the Connecticut CT Supreme Court, whose expertise on this preemption doctrine, as set forth in the Dwyer v. Farrell case outlined above, was what, in effect, was followed by the Westport RTM. Notably, the majority of lawyers on the RTM voted against the ordinance. I am guessing that they perceived the legal issues to be an insuperable hurdle, and believed we should follow the law when we pass legislation. Legislation is, after all, nothing if it is not the law.

    If the state provides opt-out provisions, we will have plenty of time to enact an ordinance between the state’s passing the legislation, and enacting it. If it does not permit opt-out, then the RTM’s ordinance could become unlawful.

    Legally, there is plenty of down side to proceed now, but zero upside. Hope this helps (if you did not fall asleep reading it!!!)

    • Bart Shuldman

      Kristan-with CT always in budget crisis after budget crisis and Hartford looking at Fairfield County as its piggybank, is it possible for Fairfield County to become the 51st state and separate from CT?

      I ask in all sincerity. You are very knowledgeable about law and especially CT law. Is it at all possible?

      No worries if you do not want to answer.

      All my best

      Bart Shuldman

    • Kris,
      To a large extent I agree with others that your posting does not deserve a response as it actually reinforces most of what I have stated.

      However, perhaps something does need to be addressed.

      Cherry picking cases in effort to support an opinion is obviously expected in a courtroom that provides opponents equal time in front of an impartial judge &/or jury. Of this you are well aware, and in restating their positions the signators knowingly exploited this forum just prior to an election.

      It is not unnoticed that you’ve intentionally cited an example where Federal and State Laws are congruent on the legality of the item(s) in question i.e. firearms vs. marijuana.

      In addition, in your posting to me you intentionally ignore the fact that states (including CT) can and have petitioned to overturn state preemption laws, and you additionally ignored the fact that Towns have successfully received exemptions from such preemptions – Town ordinances restricting or outright prohibiting the sale and use of pesticides as one case in point.

      CT is one of the 14 states with “limited” preemption – joining New York and New Jersey, as well as Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington allowing for such petitions for exemption from preemption.

      Local legislators know that restricting the retail sale of marijuana might be viewed as no different from other neighborhood health & safety stewardship laws, including restrictions and bans on littering, noise, dog feces and smoking. Indeed, the CT Supreme Court recently upheld the Town of Orange’s local ordinance which successfully banned cigarette vending machines, noting that PUBLIC SAFETY ORDINANCES ARE GIVEN A PRESUMPTION OF VALIDITY.

      And none of the ordinance creators and supporters ever postulated that this ordinance would prevent Hartford from passing retail marijuana legislation.

      My point is that contrary to the assertions of the signators of this smug, condescending, repugnant, regrettable, and completely unnecessary “assassination” opinion piece, the preemption laws being cited are far from black and white. The tone of superiority in this 06880 piece is unbecoming to the respected members of our RTM whose dedication we greatly appreciate. And with all due respect, you will admit that not all attorneys (or even all on the RTM), judges or panels in NY, MD and CT have always agreed with your legal certainty – but that is besides the point as you are entitled to your opinion.

      As you’ve rightly pointed out, as a physician I am no “legal expert” – unlike you I’ve never presented myself as such – and obviously I am no better than anyone else in predicting Hartford’s future actions. What I have merely acknowledged from the audience is what the community has witnessed from the RTM, from this defensive opinion piece, from the continuous lack of authentic constituent representation, AND the dearth of opportunity to have meaningful, effective, unbiased and comprehensive educational forums on matters of importance that could result in Westport residents effecting intelligent self-determination. 06880 is definitely not that, nor in its current format ever intended to be.

      Had the RTM passed this retail sales marijuana ordinance, at least a Town-wide referendum could have ensued if you so strongly believed in its invalidity.

      Westport’s residents deserve better – regarding this, and the multiple other controversial and significant issues facing our community. I hope other readers agree, and that as a community we devise a method to effect that change.


      Jay M Walshon MD FACEP

      • Thank you Jay, Andrea, Joe, Bart, Kristin S, and all the others who have supported Greg and I on this blog and privately.

        We would do this again in a heartbeat. We believe 1000% this was a good ordinance and would have been effective contrary to what others believe, or want to believe.
        We worked our buts off -received a unanimous vote from the RTM Ordinance Committee, with help of our Town Attorneys to move forward.
        That is all I will comment on this site at this time.
        Again, thank you Westport Electorate for your support. We are far from finished on delivering protection to our community against retail sales of Marijuana in Westport.

        Please feel free to call me or email me anytime to discuss this issue.




  14. Kristan Hamlin

    LOL. I hear you.
    A lot of towns and counties feel that way throughout the US.
    Santa Clara Cty in CA, Fairfax Cty, VA, Montgomery Cty, MD are much wealthier than the rest of their respective states.
    Before advocating such Balkanization ad nauseum, one would have to consider all the costs associated with setting up a state government in Fairfield Cty, right?
    But probably the clearest example of one part of the country getting a disproportionate free-ride on the back of the rest of the country is the age-old north/south divide, red state/blue state, with the southern red states contributing less and getting far more and riding on the backs of the northern blue states like CT, which are wealthier and more educated. Blue states contribute the most in taxes, and the red states get the most in welfare benefits. The blue states also fare better on family value issues: (northern) blue states have on average have lower crime, fewer gun massacres, fewer divorces, and less pornography.





    Notably, the poorest states are also red at the state legislature level, as they have Republican legislatures. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/2018/10/21/midterms-poorest-states-have-republican-legislatures/1694273002/

    So while there are plenty of places that are wealthy and would like to secede and go ‘indie’, that wealth, education and values divide probably finds its starkest example in the age-old north (blue)/south (red) states divide, which would probably provide the most compelling argument for secession.

    But if recollection serves, that question was resolved on April 9, 1865.

    • Kristin. Hi and thanks for responding. I will not take up any more time on this but you could argue CT gets huge benefits as Electric Boat and Prart & Whitney and HAMILTON standard and Sikorsky i
      are funded by massive tax dollars called government spending for the military.

      But understand and respect your response.

      However, I was strictly talking about CT and dividing the state Given such a divide between HARTFORD and Fairfield.

      All my best. We live in a southern state now and you would be impressed with all the building and construction and how many businesses are moving down here. Lots from CT and Fairfield.

      Bart Shuldman

  15. Kristan Hamlin

    I would not be surprised at all — where else could the rebel states go but up, when they are at the bottom of the 50?
    Your argument is a bit like arguing that Libya is doing better than the US because it’s GDP growth rates is 17.8% and ours is 2.7%. When your’e a state or country that is a mess and poor, a higher rate of growth is easier. If a 17.8% growth rate is what you are after, one can move to Libya.
    BTW: Rwanda and Bangladesh each have the next highest GDP growth rates in the world.
    Enjoy your new state!!!

    • Bart Shuldman

      Kristan. With all due respect, maybe you should ask the companies that decided to move their headquarters to Orlando or West Palm what they think. You might want to do some research before insulting. Otis Elevator?

      I think we can end this now. But no worries. Many who have a hard time understanding or fighting what is happening are continuing the nonsense in CT.

      Be good my friend. Signing off this one.

  16. Kristan Hamlin

    Otis? Otis ….. I’m trying to place that name in response to your question above.
    Was he Gomer Pyle’s buddy? Or am I remembering him because Barney Fife interrogated him? Was he any relation to Opey?

    • Bart Shuldman

      Silly me-it’s Carrier. Oh well. I am trying to end our back and forth. Please-you win. Oh, but CT losses.