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Towns discuss whether to opt out of marijuana sales

By Patricio Robayo
Posted 7/22/21

SULLIVAN— New York recently became the 15th state to legalize Marijuana for recreational use. Cannabis has been legal for medical use for many years in New York, but no medical dispensaries …

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Towns discuss whether to opt out of marijuana sales


SULLIVAN— New York recently became the 15th state to legalize Marijuana for recreational use. Cannabis has been legal for medical use for many years in New York, but no medical dispensaries exist in Sullivan County.

Marijuana, as of April 2021, is legal for personal recreational use for adults over 21, anywhere tobacco use is allowed.

Soon, the sale of Marijuana will be permitted. Currently, the state is still putting together regulations for the commercial sale and on-site consumption business.

However, not all towns in Sullivan County will be participating. They have to decide by December 31, 2021, whether to “opt-out” of allowing businesses to sell cannabis within their town.

Opting out would require creating a local law restricting retail cannabis sales. If a petition gains enough signatures, opting out could be put to voters in a direct referendum.

Municipalities do not have the power to overturn other provisions of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, such as legalizing the possession and personal cultivation of cannabis.

Many towns are now in discussion about this very topic. The Democrat surveyed all the town supervisors in this multi-part series on how they will vote if a resolution was in front of them.

Please note the views expressed are only those of the town supervisor and not reflective of the whole town board.

Town of Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm said, “My feeling is it would be an allowable retail use according to our Bethel Town Code which would require Planning Board approval. So if it meets our code, and they follow the requirements, I would say welcome to Bethel. We also, in the past, were supportive of a local farmer who applied to be one of the five approved growers for marijuana when it was discussed a few years ago, which would have included a local retail dispensary.

Town Supervisor Tom Bose said after Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff and Undersheriff Eric Chaboty visited a recent town board meeting, “I feel and, I think the board will probably agree with me, I think it’s probably unanimous that we don’t feel at this time that we would allow the on-site consumption. And there were good reasons put forth by Sheriff Schiff and Undersheriff Chaboty. I felt this way before hearing from them. If you think about it, right now, there’s no way to know if a person is under the influence of marijuana driving a motor vehicle. It’s not that way for alcohol where they can determine that right away. We’ll see what happens and what occurs in other towns. And then if we do opt-out of it, we still have the ability to opt back in at a later date.”

Town Supervisor Dan Hogue Jr. said, “I have actually discussed this with several people around town, and I myself am neutral on the subject. Neither for or against. That being said, if it was a yes or no vote, I would likely vote no because Forestburgh is a bedroom community with only one small ‘country store’ that focuses on community. On a larger scale, I am in favor of it in a more retail setting like neighboring Thompson. I don’t think it is economically feasible for a small town like Forestburgh.”

Town Supervisor Frank DeMayo said, “I personally am not, you know, really in favor of legalization of another vice, if you will. Right now, it’s just my personal take on it. When does that stop? I’m really not in favor of the town having to enforce this or legislate this because I just could see, you know, a whole host of issues down the road. My take is, this is a state issue; this was a state decision; let the state handle that. I don’t want to burden the town with the additional resources necessary for enforceability.”

After holding a public hearing in June, the Town of Lumberland voted unanimously to opt-out of the commercial sale of Marijuana sales and consumption business on July 14, 2021.

Town Supervisor Robert Eggleton said, “So the big question is, are we going to receive a share of the revenues from the sales, to combat further drug use, and how will it be tested to see if you have had too much? We are trying to stop people from smoking but now want to promote it. My answer would be NO.”

Town Supervisor Bill Rieber Jr. said, “The only resolution we could possibly vote on would be to ‘opt-out of the sale of Marijuana.’ I would not support this option knowing what I know today. As I see it, if anyone wants to purchase the commodity, they will have ample opportunity in the region to do so. Given that, the sale of marijuana could prove to be a significant revenue stream and additionally will provide many jobs and ratables. I don’t see a compelling reason to give that up.”


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  • lhfc1563

    As I see it this has to go in front of the voters and that it has to do with 'The Money' as does everything else. These Towns want to opt out right away but sell alcohol that hasn't stopped DWI at all, but they make money off of it.

    Wednesday, July 21, 2021 Report this