In tight vote, Lyme says ‘no’ to cannabis retailers

Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times

LYME — Town voters were almost evenly split in this year’s general election on whether they want to see marijuana dispensaries come to Lyme.

By a margin of only two ballots, voters agreed to keep the town’s opt-out law in place, barring any dispensaries or consumption sites from establishing themselves in the town’s borders. There were 277 votes to keep the ban in place, and 275 votes against it.

Lyme’s Town Supervisor-elect Terry D. Countryman, now a councilor, said it seems the issue is generational — older residents don’t want to see pot stores come to town, and younger residents don’t seem to care as much.

“It’s hard to really gauge where everybody is at this point. It gets really close,” he said.

Current Town Supervisor Scott G. Aubertine said he believes a big part of why many people don’t want to see dispensaries come to town is because they don’t know what they will look like.

The rules and regulations regarding dispensaries and many other aspects of the cannabis business are still unestablished. The state Cannabis Control Board is set to draft more rules in the coming months, but it could be a while before state residents have an idea of what a dispensary is going to be allowed to look like.

The closeness of the vote doesn’t change much for Mr. Aubertine, he said. The majority still ruled, and the town’s opt-out law will stay in effect.

Both he and Mr. Countryman said there may have been some confusion over the wording of the proposition, however. A “yes” vote meant dispensaries would remain banned, and a “no” vote would allow them to come to town.

Mr. Countryman said the town board would only reconsider the ban if a petition was circulated among the town’s voters asking them to opt back in to sales.

The village of Chaumont, within the town’s borders, passed its own opt-out law in October. Village voters had 30 days to file a petition challenging that move, but no petition was submitted in time.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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