The Cortlandville town board at its meeting on Wednesday tabled its decision on whether to opt out of allowing marijuana dispensaries to give the town’s attorney more time to review information.
In March, New York state legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 or older. The state is giving municipalities until Dec. 31 of this year to opt out of allowing marijuana retail sales.
Town supervisor Tom Williams said there are two parts to the local law in consideration: the first is opting out of allowing marijuana dispensaries, and the second is opting out of where marijuana can be used (mainly restaurants and bars).
“Since marijuana is now legal in the state, we have no control over the use or growing of marijuana,” he added.
If Cortlandville doesn’t opt out by the end of the year, dispensaries in the community will be automatically opted in by the state, town attorney John DelVecchio said.
“If the town chooses to opt out, which will put a prohibition on these dispensaries, you can choose to opt back in any time in the future,” he added.
DelVecchio noted an additional option to put the decision up for a vote in this year’s general election “by way of referendum.”
The process through a public vote makes a decision, and the decision is considered by the town board along with additional feedback from the public. The town board will then make its final decision, DelVecchio said.
“If the route of the referendum is taken, I need to take a closer look at the logistics so it is done properly,” he added.
Before the decision was tabled, a public hearing was held in regards to dispensaries.
Resident Bob Martin harped that “marijuana dispensaries are going to happen.”
“If not in Cortlandville or Cortland County, they will throughout the state and adjoining counties,” he said.
Martin cited that the state will see an estimated $350 million per year, and 30,000-60,000 jobs created through marijuana dispensaries.
“We should share in this opportunity,” he said. “Cortlandville has numerous storefronts that are empty. Why not promote one or more of these to be used as a marijuana dispensary.”
Resident George Mowry, who read facts based on the legalization of marijuana dispensaries in the state of Colorado, is concerned about an uptick in crime related to marijuana use and abuse if Cortlandville allows dispensaries.
“If you take a sample from a dispensary in Cortlandville, you end up driving away under the influence,” he said. “It’s not like the city of Cortland where it’s easier for residents to walk rather than drive.”
Mowry added, “Let the city of Cortland take the burden.”
Mowry continued by saying that allowing dispensaries may refrain other businesses from coming into the town in the future.
“If I were a business owner, I’d think twice about opening a business next to a marijuana dispensary, especially if the business is a family-oriented one,” he said.
The town board will further discuss dispensaries at its meeting in August.