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Make Stonington a vice stop off Interstate 95

I don't understand the angst developing among the residents of some Connecticut towns over the prospect of someone opening a marijuana store in their midst.

Honestly, what are they so worried about — pot smokers with the munchies dropping candy wrappers as they come and go?

I think I'd prefer a store selling pot over one selling liquor in my neighborhood. But, really, as long as they are in appropriately zoned locations, who cares? It's not like customers are likely to be lingering and smoking out in front of marijuana stores, any more than drinkers crack open their cans and bottles in front of package stores. 

Indeed, I think towns ought to make smoking pot in public places illegal — as the new Connecticut marijuana law allows them to — just as it is for drinking in public. If the town where I live, Stonington, were to put a pot smoking in public question on the ballot, I would certainly vote to outlaw that.

What Stonington instead is asking voters, in a referendum scheduled for Oct. 5, is whether to outlaw marijuana businesses. A "no" vote on a pot business ban would allow for Stonington, because of its size, to have one marijuana retail store and one retail grower.

This is a total win for Stonington. 

The way that marijuana sales were legalized here, towns of a certain size can either opt out of having a business within their borders or, if they consent, can reap the benefits.

Towns can tax retail sales at 3%. They also can recoup security expenses if special police patrols are needed.

I can't think of too many other ways in which the state legislature has created new revenue streams for towns. Usually, the state passes mandates that cost towns money.

Stonington could end up hosting a large retail store, one hopefully with big sales to tax, since it's a border town and marijuana is still illegal, at least for now, in Rhode Island.

Not far from Stonington's northern border are two of the largest casinos in the world. Rumor mills suggest that pot smoking is not a vice our casinos plan to leave untapped, and plans are in the works for a megastore.

How about a big one in Stonington near the Route 2 exits off Interstate 95? This area could even be encouraged in zoning regulations.

A store on Route 2 in Stonington could not only attract customers from all over Rhode Island but could be an easy on/easy off attraction for passing traffic on the interstate, maybe some who didn't find a place to top off with pot gummies in Massachusetts.

And it's on the way for a lot of people heading to casinos.

Why not make Stonington a stop for all your vices. Exit here for easy access to gambling and pre-rolled joints.

If Stonington encourages a megastore near the interstate, maybe Foxwoods Resort Casino will scrap whatever plans it might be making. Even if the casino eventually builds a major new pot store, many of those heading to the casino might stop first at the first place they see, and maybe that will be in Stonington.

So, if you live in Stonington, vote no on the marijuana question. Only in Stonington could they make it so confusing that a no vote means yes. 

No ban. Bring it on. Make it big. And tax it at 3%.

This is the opinion of David Collins. 

d.collins@theday.com.  

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