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Towns consider whether to opt-out of marijuana dispensaries

The deadline to opt-out is Dec. 31
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Posted at 11:31 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 23:31:28-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Growing, smoking, and possessing certain amounts of recreational marijuana is legal everywhere in New York, buying from a dispensary might not be.

Cities, towns, and villages can opt-out of the retail portion of New York State's new adult-use recreational marijuana law. That means dispensaries and on-site consumption, such as a smoke lounge, would not be allowed in the municipality.

Marilla Town Supervisor Earl Gingerich, Jr. said he directed the town's attorney to draft up the local law to opt-out.

“The benefit of the taxes doesn’t even come close,” Gingerich said.

Gingerich said he knows too many families who lost loved ones to drug overdoses. He said he is worried marijuana is a gateway drug.

"I'm not contributing to somebody getting hooked on drugs, and struggling with it, and I'm not part of somebody being hurt or killed on a road because of it," Gingerich said.

Municipalities can not opt-out of legalization.

Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Joe Emminger said the town hasn't made a decision yet, and will spend the next few months examining the pros and cons to opting out.

Dispensaries likely won't come to the state until 2022. Cannabis sales will have a 1% county, 3% municipal, and 9% state tax.

“If we opt-out Town of Tonawanda residents can go over to Hertel Ave. in the City of Buffalo and the City of Buffalo will get the financial rewards, for lack of a better word on that, and the Town of Tonawanda will still be then responsible for enforcing the laws,” Emminger said.

Emminger said the town will likely need to hire at least one additional police officer and maybe a code enforcement officer.

Buffalo Mayor Byorn Brown said the city is looking at training and income programs as potential ways to invest in communities disproportionately effected by marijuana arrests.

“This is going to be hopefully a significant allocation of money that will come back to the local community," Brown said.

The supervisors said opting out of dispensaries requires public hearings and a town board vote, like other local laws.

The deadline to opt-out is December 31st.