Pittsford town officials reject cannabis dispensaries, lounges in divided vote

The town of Pittsford has become the latest Monroe County municipality to block the establishment of cannabis dispensaries and lounges.

Board members on Wednesday voted 3-2 to direct the state Office of Cannabis Management to not issue dispensary and lounge licenses in town. Municipalities are allowed to take that step under the state law that legalized adult-use marijuana, as long as they act by Dec. 31.

Consequently, the matter is being hotly debated in cities, towns, and villages across the state.

“Many of our residents have followed this matter closely,” Pittsford Town Supervisor Bill Smith said in a statement. “Since I’ve been supervisor I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a volume of public comment as we had on marijuana legalization. Public comments received for the public hearing and for our previous public forum on this subject were overwhelmingly against marijuana dispensaries and lounges in Pittsford.”

Smith and Town Board member Kate Munzinger, both of whom are Republicans, and Stephanie Townsend, a Democrat, voted in favor of the measure to block cannabis-related businesses. Democrats Kevin Beckford and Kathy Koshykar voted against it.

Pittsford joins several other local towns in rejecting dispensaries and lounges. Gates, Sweden, Hamlin, and Clarkson have also passed laws blocking the businesses.

Under state law, residents can challenge the decisions of their local governments by petitioning to force a referendum. Petitioners need to collect a number of signatures equal to 10 percent of the ballots cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election in their jurisdiction.

Such an effort is currently under way in Sweden. There, attorney Rachel Partington is helping to organize a petition drive, which she said requires 253 signatures of voters in the town.

The village of Pittsford, which is situated in the town of Pittsford, has also proposed blocking dispensaries and lounges. Village trustees have set a public hearing on the matter for 7 p.m. Dec. 14.

Trustees expect to approve the measure, but they also plan to set a referendum so the public can decide whether the statute should be enacted, which they are allowed to do under state law. The date for that referendum is expected to be set in the near future.

Jeremy Moule is CITY’s news editor. He can be reached at jmoule@rochester-citynews.com.

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