After a short public hearing Wednesday at which one resident supported a ban on marijuana dispensaries and another opposed it, the Cortlandville Town Board delayed action on whether to opt out of allowing dispensaries to give its lawyer more time to review options.
The state in March legalized marijuana for adults 21 or older, giving communities until the end of the year to opt out of allowing sales through dispensaries.
If a community prohibits dispensaries, it can later reverse course, said Town Attorney John DelVecchio.
If a town does not ban them by the end of the year, it cannot later ban them, but it can regulate them with zoning.
At the hearing Wednesday, resident George Mowry, one of two people to speak, said he worries that marijuana dispensaries would contribute to crime in Cortlandville, noting the drug is far more potent than the marijuana that was common when he grew up in the 1970s.
“Let the city of Cortland take the burden,” Mowry said.
“Marijuana dispensaries are going to happen,” resident Bob Martin said. “If not in Cortlandville or Cortland County, they will throughout the state and adjoining counties.”
Martin cited one estimate of $350 million in sales tax revenue annually and 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs statewide from the sale of marijuana. Allowing dispensaries in Cortlandville would give the town a piece of the revenue and fill empty storefronts.
“From the financial perspective, I feel that Cortlandville should allow dispensaries,” Martin said.
DelVecchio said the Town Board could send the proposal to opt out to a referendum during the November general election. The board voted, 5-0, to give its lawyer more time for review.
However, time is short. According to the state Board of Elections, the deadline for a municipality to provide a county board of elections with the text of a referendum is Aug. 2. The general election Nov. 2.