Town of Homer residents vote in favor of allowing marijuana dispensaries, on-site consumption establishments

Homer Town Hall. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith/The Cortland Voice).

On Tuesday, town of Homer residents had the opportunity to vote on the matter of the town’s proposed local law to prohibit marijuana-based dispensaries and on-site consumption establishments.

Back in March, New York state legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 or older. The state is giving municipalities until the end of the year to opt out of allowing marijuana retail sales and on-site consumption establishments. If municipalities don’t take action, dispensaries and establishments are automatically legal at the beginning of next year.

The majority of town residents voted NO, which meant voters decided the prohibition should not be a local law. The vote count showed 673 residents (54.45%) voted NO, while 563 residents (45.55%) voted YES.

The village of Homer voted in July to allow dispensaries, but not on-site consumption establishments, making the overall Homer area a possible choice for patrons to open the specific business.

Homer town supervisor Fred Forbes said some residents were initially confused on the wording of the proposition, due to other propositions having a clear “No” answer to the questions asked. The majority of the residents, however, were in favor of not prohibiting marijuana-based businesses.

Forbes noted the town board has no plans of action or discussion revolving around the potential of marijuana-based businesses coming to town. Anyone looking to open this specific business can start applying for a license, but Forbes added that based on zoning the town board could limit where businesses would be based in the area.

“I think the town board did the right thing putting it on the ballot,” he said. Forbes added that the town board decided to put it up for a vote by residents back in August. “The people decided, so we’ll just move on.”

Forbes said the town board felt “rushed” in scheduling public hearings and to make a decision of putting it to a vote before the Aug. 2 ballot deadline.

“The time frame to put everything together was extremely restrictive,” he added.

Forbes, who is against the idea of marijuana-based businesses in town, mentioned that he doesn’t see “a resident or anyone for that matter” starting the specific business anytime soon.

“I don’t see a benefit to towns like Homer, and I’ve seen states like Colorado not dealing with these types of businesses well after being legalized for 10 years,” he said.