More locales say ‘no’ to cannabis

A marijuana plant. Brad Horrigan/The Hartford Courant/TNS

CANTON — The village Board of Trustees heard from a handful of residents during a virtual hearing regarding the legal sale of marijuana in Canton.

There were 23 people signed into the Zoom meeting, which concluded in just 25 minutes.

Signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act legalized recreational marijuana sales and use for adults 21 and older. It immediately expunged previous marijuana-related convictions from New Yorkers’ records and established a framework for regulating businesses.

Cities, towns and villages across the state can decide to opt out of allowing dispensaries by passing a local law by Dec. 31, though municipalities would then forego tax revenue generated from shops within their boundaries.

A total 13% cannabis excise tax will apply when dispensary sales begin, likely next year. The tax breaks down into 1% for the county, 3% for the dispensary’s municipality and 9% for the state.

Should the village decide to opt out, village residents could petition for a referendum or the village could hold a referendum of its own volition. Otherwise, dispensaries would be allowed to open once the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act’s regulatory mechanisms are further developed.

Most commenters Wednesday night were in favor of allowing sales in Canton.

“Allowing cannabis dispensaries and on-site use in the village of Canton is to the benefit of the economy of the village and the town, and I would support it whole-heartedly,” Lenore E. VanderZee said.

Ms. VanderZee, SUNY Canton’s executive director for university relations, said she was speaking only for herself but did point out that the college has incorporated cannabis business courses into its curriculum, recognizing the potential growth of the industry in New York.

Not allowing sales in Canton while other towns and villages go forward, would mean Canton would be missing out on the tax revenue from cannabis sales, Ms. VanderZee said.

Marti MacArthur also cited the potential revenue a dispensary would bring in her argument in favor of local sales.

“People in Canton, and certainly students, will be going to other villages,” she said.

Ms. MacArthur, a user of medical marijuana, said that before marijuana shops opened on the Akwesasne Reservation, she had to go to Plattsburgh to secure her medication.

“It would be great to have it here in Canton,” she said.

Marijuana has many benefits beyond its recreational use, she added.

“A lot of you would be very surprised that people you know use marijuana and have to go someplace else to get it,” Ms. MacArthur said.

“I am diametrically opposed to it,” Gerard Tozzi said.

Mr. Tozzi described finding hypodermic needles near the site of a halfway house in Canton.

“I don’t think it behooves us to introduce another form of dope into Canton,” he said.

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