Massena seeks input on marijuana dispensaries

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MASSENA — Village officials want to hear from the public before they make a decision about opting in or out on allowing marijuana dispensaries in the village under the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.

Mayor Timothy J. Ahlfeld told trustees during their meeting Tuesday that, after discussing it in May, the board had leaned toward following the state’s direction on the dispensaries.

“I reached out to the board to feel the appetite of whether we wanted to opt out of the Marijuana Legalization Act that was coming through or you guys just wanted the status quo, following the direction that the state put forth. It seemed like, as far as the board was concerned, we were status quo and were just going to follow the direction of the state,” he said.

Mr. Ahlfeld said that, since then, there had been discussions “and we were wondering if we want to reach out to the public to see if anybody has any comments.”

He said comments could be made during a village board meeting, by email or through a letter “just to get an idea of how they feel.”

“You have to be careful to listen to the silent majority too because you may get three letters that say we’re not in favor or in favor of it and there could be a whole bunch who feel the other way,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire said he had fielded a couple of calls.

“One lady I spoke with didn’t realize that the opt in, opt out was simply about allowing dispensaries. It’s not about use. The state settled that. This is simply, are you going to allow dispensaries with the rules set forth by the state, which are pretty aggressive,” he said. “Once I explained that to her, she was like, ‘Oh, I don’t care.’ I’m sure that’s not going to be the opinion of everyone, but the more information we get out there, the better.”

Mr. LeBire said he had a one-page fact sheet that had not yet been released to the public, which would provide more information to the community.

“We can probably verify it to make sure they haven’t changed anything and put it on our website or social media. Just put a note at the bottom, current as of this date just in case they change,” he said.

According to the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March, cities, towns and villages will have the option to opt-out of allowing retail dispensaries, although they will have to forego the tax revenue potentially generated by the shops.

Under the MRTA, marijuana sales will be taxed at a 13% rate, with 9% going to New York state, 3% going to the local government and 1% going to the county.

To ban a dispensary, the local government’s legislature must pass a local law enacting the ban before Dec. 31.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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