Massena sets public hearing for marijuana

Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem/Pexels

MASSENA — Community members will have an opportunity next month to discuss why they want or don’t want marijuana dispensaries and on-site consumption within the village of Massena.

The public hearing will be held during the next village Board of Trustees meeting, at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19.

During their meeting this week, village trustees said they favored allowing marijuana dispensaries in the village limits, but not on-site consumption.

“If we opt out of on-site consumption as we’ve talked about in the past, we can always opt back in,” Mayor Timothy J. Ahlfeld said.

He said most of the calls he has received from the community are in line with the board’s sentiment — yes to dispensaries, no to on-site consumption.

Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire said the calls and emails he has received have been a mix.

“Those that are against allowing dispensaries tend to be against it overall, which I appreciate those concerns,” he said. “It’s more the legalization aspect of it.”

He recalled his discussion with one resident.

“I gave the example of you realize they can literally go 100 feet from village limits and open a dispensary,” Mr. LeBire said. “We’re not going to prevent the purchase of recreational marijuana, but not allow dispensaries. We’re going to make it a little more inconvenient for them. I don’t think there’s a decision that’s perfect in this, but definitely opting out of on-site consumption seems to be (the most preferred).”

Village Administrator Monique Chatland said they will need to adopt a local law opting out of on-site consumption, but they need to have a public hearing first.

“Then you would pass a resolution in order to do so,” she said. “That gives community members a chance to come and speak at the public hearing.”

Trustee Gregory Paquin suggested they could debate what route they wanted to take after the public hearing.

“We have a resolution to set up a public hearing, then debate the actual law,” he said.

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

Village trustees have solicited community input before having their discussion this week, and they’ll have the opportunity to hear more community input in October.

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