The deadline is approaching for the choice of marijuana
FINGER LAKES – Towns and villages across the Finger Lakes have until December 31 to consider whether or not they want to allow the sale of marijuana within their municipality. To help make their decision, some villages, like Penn Yan and Odessa, have held meetings to gauge public opinion on the matter.
“We certainly had a very varied set of arguments,” said Mayor Leigh MacKerchar during the public hearing on Tuesday, September 21. “Pros and cons, the reasons why we should and the reasons why we shouldn’t. There was a pretty good turnout and people raised a lot of good points. ”
MacKerchar said 42 people attended the public hearing and it was instructive for local officials. While many boards in the region are determining where they stand, that doesn’t preclude the fact that there is a countdown in the matter. If a municipality does not deny the existence of marijuana dispensaries by December 31 of this year, it will automatically be allowed.
A board of directors voting not to allow a dispensary to sell marijuana in the municipality is also not the end of the matter. Voters or an individual board member have the option of calling for a local referendum. If a referendum is held, voters could overturn an earlier decision.
In the region, Odessa has already announced plans to pull out before the Dec.31 deadline and hold a public vote on the issue in March.
However, according to local officials, a common theme statewide has been general misconceptions about what a municipality can and cannot do regarding marijuana regulations.
State rules state that “towns, cities and towns can refuse to allow adult cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses to set up in their jurisdictions. Municipalities cannot refuse the legalization of adult use. Possession and use of cannabis by adults 21 years of age or older, in accordance with the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA), is legal in New York State. “
The recent Penn Yan meeting demonstrated this difference between what citizens think government can do and what it actually has the power to legislate.
“I think there was a misconception, some people were strongly against legalizing or using marijuana,” MacKerchar said. “This problem, the state has already addressed. (Locally) we have three things to consider, the removal of retail outlets, the permitted use of the premises and whether we opt for these facilities to control the locations. with zoning. ”
By state law, dispensary locations are already limited to within 500 feet of a school or 200 feet of a place of worship. The sale of alcohol in dispensaries will also be prohibited.
Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk said the board is currently considering whether or not to approve the sale and warned that no decision has yet been made.
“(The board) wants to hear from the public on this, but we haven’t addressed it yet,” Leszyk said. “In the near future, it will happen. “
Under current state laws, adults over the age of 21 can possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis (such as spray oil or edible product). Adults can have up to five pounds of cannabis in their personal residence or on their property.
“What people don’t understand is that using and possessing marijuana is legal in New York City,” MacKerchar said, noting that he only talks about his personal feelings. “It’s here and we have to face it by doing nothing or doing something. I think allowing retail is something we should be entertaining, I don’t think withdrawal is a good way to go. follow. With the zoning bylaws, we can limit the locations and control it like that. ”
The MRTA establishes three taxes on cannabis consumed by adults. A tax is imposed at the distributor level based on the milligrams of total THC in the cannabis product. There are different tax rates depending on the form of the cannabis product.
• Edibles (eg, food and drink) are taxed at $ 0.03 per mg of THC
• Concentrates (eg, spray oil, wax, shatter and resin) are taxed at $ 0.008 per mg of THC
• Cannabis flowers (eg loose flowers, pre-rolls or shakes) are taxed at $ 0.005 per mg of THC.
On retail sale to the consumer, there are two taxes:
• 9% state excise tax
• 4% local excise tax
These taxes do not apply to medical cannabis.
All cannabis taxes would be deposited into the New York State Cannabis Revenue Fund. The revenues cover the reasonable costs of administering the program and implementing the law. The remaining funding would be distributed in three ways:
• 40 percent to education
• 40 percent to Community Grants Reinvestment Fund
• 20 percent to the Drug Addiction Treatment and Public Education Fund.