Village of Homer to allow pot dispensaries; local law pending to prohibit on-site consumption

(Photo Source: Unsplash)

Village of Homer Board of Trustees at its meeting on Tuesday agreed to allow marijuana dispensaries in the village, but voted 3-2 in favor of prohibiting on-site consumption establishments.

Village attorney Dante Armideo plans to prepare a draft of the local law that will ban on-site consumption establishments for restaurants, cafes, bars and other businesses.

“Public notice on the proposed local law needs to be provided to village residents,” he said.

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 and on-site consumption establishments. If municipalities don’t take action, dispensaries and on-site consumption are automatically legal at the beginning of next year.

Village mayor Hal McCabe and board member Tim Daley were against the local law proposal.

“I think (this potential local law) is foolish,” Daley said. “We should have a poll out there where residents can provide their opinion on it.”

Board member Ed Finkbeiner voted in favor of the local law proposal, but expressed his displeasure for “not giving residents enough time to speak on this.”

The village board considered putting the decision to a referendum to give residents a chance to provide their opinions on the matter.

Armideo noted there is a process before a referendum is put in place. Since the board “can’t flat out say there’s going to be a referendum,” he added, a draft of a local law opting out can lead to a permissible referendum in the near future.

McCabe wanted to avoid a referendum “from the beginning,” since the village is a non-election year and village residents would have “to come out specifically for the local law proposal.”

“I’ve heard plenty of people saying they’re against retail sales of marijuana in the village in any form,” he said.

Village deputy mayor Pat Clune said the establishment of marijuana dispensaries will be “beneficial to the village.” He noted the dispensaries will generate 4% sales tax, with a percent of it going to Cortland County and the rest staying with the village.

“If the town of Homer opts in to allow dispensaries, they would get a cut of the 3% sales tax the village would generate,” Clune added.

McCabe wants to “make it clear” that the village is looking to vote out of allowing on-site consumption establishments of marijuana, not the legalization of it.

“Marijuana is still legal to grow and use,” he said. “We have no control over that.”