For Cortlandville Town Supervisor Tom Williams, the financial incentives of allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries in the town will have to be weighed against health and safety hazards as the town discusses next month whether to allow the dispensaries.
Williams joins officials from Homer and Cortland, who are considering the prospect of having dispensaries in their municipalities as well.
The Cortlandville Town Board will continue the discussion July 7 on whether the town should prohibit marijuana dispensaries where people could buy or buy and consume marijuana products. The issue was first raised during its June 16 meeting.
“We’re continuing to discuss it,” Williams said Monday.
Recreational marijuana was legalized in March for adults 21 or older in New York, but communities were given the option of opting out of allowing sales. Limited marijuana plant growth was legalized as well though until at least 18 months after the first legal marijuana sale in the state.
Town Attorney John DelVecchio said can prohibit allowing marijuana establishments in the town but most do so through a local law by Dec. 31.
If a municipality chooses to prohibit establishments by the end of the year, it can change its course at a later point, he said. However, if a municipality allows for marijuana dispensaries in the town, it can regulate zoning but it can’t reverse the decision later.
Williams said Monday that having a background as a state police trooper for 15 years has influenced how he views marijuana and is personally for prohibiting marijuana establishments in the town.
“There’s a financial incentive to the town but to me, it doesn’t make much sense to do it that way,” he said.
Tax revenue from the legalization is expected to be about $350 million annually, reports Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
Williams said he favors the town getting sales tax revenue from money spent elsewhere, such as from Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex.
The town of Homer hasn’t discussed its stance on the issue yet, but it will likely come up at a future town board meeting, said Supervisor Fred Forbes.
However, Forbes said he opposes allowing marijuana dispensaries in the town, citing the dangers of people driving while under the influence and knowing a friend who overdosed on marijuana and had to spend 70 days in a mental institution.
“I just think it’s not what I would like to see for the town of Homer,” he said.
Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin said he didn’t have a stance on the issue because he has been researching the topic in advance of a Common Council discussion on it next month.
“At this point, I want to make sure I have all the facts before I make a decision or have a strong opinion,” he said.