December 1, 2021

Homer to allow dispensaries, but it doesn’t mean town will have one

Homer to allow dispensaries, but it doesn’t mean town will have one

Sarah Bullock/staff reporter

Gail Briggs arranges a window display Wednesday at Gail’s Antiques & Collectibles on North Main Street in Homer. “I guess I’d say that I’m surprised and sorry that it passed,” Briggs said Wednesday after Homer voters decided to allow marijuana dispensaries to open in the town.

Even though Homer voters decided Tuesday to allow marijuana dispensaries to open in the town, the state will not allow more than two in Cortland County.

A proposal to prohibit adult-use marijuana dispensaries and consumption sites was struck down 563-673, allowing a retail store or a smoking lounge to open in the Town of Homer. A similar proposal in the village of McGraw tied, 70-70, meaning absentee votes are likely to decide the matter.

But that doesn’t mean it will be easy for a entrepreneur to open a store or lounge, said Bob Haight, the Cortland Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and president.

The state will not allow more than one dispensary for a population of 20,000 people, Haight said. “It’s going to be very limited,” he said. “Maybe two in the whole county.”

That’s probably two too many for Gail Briggs, owner of Gail’s Antiques & Collectibles on North Main Street in Homer.

“I guess I’d say that I’m surprised and sorry that it passed,” Briggs said Wednesday, although she declined further comment.

Rob Garrison, the manager of Homer Men & Boys Store on South Main Street, said he was neutral on the subject.

“As a business owner, I don’t have a problem with it,” Garrison said. Having a larger tax base is better for community businesses. “We’re neither for or against. It sounds like the community voted for it.”

The state law does come with its own limits. A business owner with a retail dispensary license or a license for on-site consumption cannot also have a license to cultivate or process marijuana, the state office of Cannabis Management reports.

And a business owner requires separate licenses for both a retail dispensary and a place of on-site consumption.

“All they’ll be able to do is purchase it (cannabis) from wholesalers and sell it,” Haight said.

The state will charge two taxes on non-medical marijuana sold in dispensaries for adult use: a 9% state tax and a 4% local tax. The revenue will support the Office of Cannabis Management, with the any remaining funds going to fund community programs.

Education programs would receive 40% percent of the remaining revenue, 40% would go to the state Community Grants Reinvestment Fund and 20% would go to the state Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund.