Massena gets $800K for downtown, fishing events

Main Street in Massena. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The Town Council voted Wednesday night to allow marijuana dispensaries in the town limits but to ban on-site marijuana consumption establishments.

The marijuana resolution passed by a 4-1 vote, with Councilor Susan Bellor voting against.

Signed into law by then 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.

The law created the Office of Cannabis Management, which is governed by a Cannabis Control Board similar to the state Liquor Authority under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. The OCM will be responsible for issuing retail licenses and developing additional business regulations.

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.

Allowing marijuana dispensaries in town makes sense, Councilor Samuel D. Carbone Jr. said, since dispensaries already exist in Akwesasne and neighboring municipalities have voted to allow them.

Much like liquor stores, he said, dispensary locations should be subject to zoning regulations.

“Any facility should not disrupt anyone from peacefully enjoying their property,” Mr. Carbone said.

Ms. Bellor voted against the resolution, citing news reports from Oregon where illegal marijuana farms are causing problems.

At least one Oregon county has called for state help because legal hemp farms are being used as fronts to grow the more strictly regulated marijuana. Legal hemp does not contain THC, the psychoactive element in marijuana.

In other business Wednesday night:

The council is still mulling changes to the town’s 2022 spending plan.

Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said the plan is now just $679 above the tax cap. He wants councilors to look for more changes to bring the number down before a vote next week. The budget must be passed by Nov. 20.

The board voted unanimously to oppose the closing of the Ogdensburg Correctional Facility.

Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul announced Monday that the St. Lawrence County prison was among six prisons in the state that will close in March.

Councilor Thomas C. Miller offered the resolution.

The prison in Ogdensburg has an economic impact on Massena, Mr. Miller said. There are 18 prison employees living in Massena and many corrections officers travel through the town on their way to and from work and spend money on gas and food, he said.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

St. Lawrence/Franklin County Editor

Slowly self-propelled. Two-time cancer survivor. Nearly 30-year newspaper veteran.

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