Town of Skaneateles OKs marijuana sales but not consumption sites at fiery meeting | Local News | Auburn, NY | Auburnpub.com

After another tense public hearing where more than 20 residents spoke, the Skaneateles Town Board voted Monday to “opt out” of marijuana consumption sites, but not dispensaries.

The latter decision provoked outrage from the packed room at Skaneateles Town Hall, where attendees shouted “unbelievable,”https://auburnpub.com/”this is pathetic,”https://auburnpub.com/”you all should be voted out” and more at the board.

Councilor Kevin McCormack, who introduced the local law prohibiting marijuana dispensaries in the town, walked out of the meeting in disgust after his motion to pass it went unseconded.

The remaining board members then unanimously passed the local law prohibiting consumption sites in the town. As the meeting concluded, Councilor Mark Tucker asked if the dispensary law could be reconsidered at the board’s next meeting Dec. 20, and was told by town attorney Brody Smith that it could. The law had not been defeated, Smith explained, but tabled. 

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Municipalities in New York state have until Dec. 31 to “opt out” of dispensaries and consumption sites, or pass local laws prohibiting them inside their borders. 

The deadline, which comes from the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act passed in March, was criticized as “rushed” by several of the town residents who spoke Monday. Speaking before the board’s vote, McCormack said the town should wait until it receives the final regulations for licensing marijuana businesses before committing to allowing them there.

Those who spoke in favor of opting out also claimed that allowing those businesses would compromise the moral character of the town.

“I wonder what message this would send to young people,” said Dessa Bergan, a former teacher. “What we put our penny on is what we value. Do we want to tell our children, go ahead and use pot?”

Another resident, Patricia Carroll, argued that Skaneateles should be “above” collecting tax revenue from marijuana businesses. As many residents pointed out, municipalities that don’t opt out will collect a 3% tax from marijuana sales there, while counties will collect a 1% tax. Carroll went on to say that she doesn’t believe the town would collect a significant amount of tax revenue.

Some residents voiced concerns that dispensaries and consumption sites in the town would increase the amount of impaired driving there, but other residents questioned the truth of that claim. Some asked why the same concern doesn’t extend to alcohol, with one resident telling the board, “If you opt out, my opinion is that you need to close the bars. Let’s have a dry town.”

Resident Skip Lockwood said marijuana licenses would likely be issued more stringently than liquor licenses. Dispensaries, he continued, look more like Apple stores than bars or liquor stores.

“We’re talking about a product that is safer and more highly regulated than ones you all use regularly,” he said, adding that dispensaries will probably be limited to a handful per legislative district.

Along with Josh Allyn, owner of hemp farm Tap Root Fields in the town, Lockwood also said opting out could dampen the agricultural benefits of marijuana’s legalization.

“Much like our wineries, breweries and distilleries, growing marijuana will be a key product in our area and something we should embrace,” he said.

Before the hearing began, town Supervisor Janet Aaron said the board has researched marijuana extensively, even touring growing facilities. Councilor Courtney Alexander later raised the little-known issue of microbusinesses, which appear to be a loophole in the opt-out process. Such businesses would likely be able to sell marijuana even in municipalities that opt out, Smith confirmed.

The board has also solicited public opinion on marijuana at two previous town hearings, Aaron continued, along with receiving several calls and letters, and actively reaching out to the community.

“This board has done more public involvement (on opting out) than any other board I know,” Aaron said.

Municipalities in the Cayuga County area are weighing the pros and cons of opting out of parts of New York state’s law legalizing marijuana.

Preempting a possible attempt by the Cayuga Nation to open a marijuana dispensary, the village of Union Springs has drafted a local law prohib…

Auburn City Council took its first public step toward deciding whether to opt out of parts of the state’s law legalizing recreational marijuan…

Two municipalities in Cayuga County are moving forward with local laws opting out of parts of New York state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxati…

A third Cayuga County municipality has made known its plans to opt out of parts of the state’s new marijuana law, and will hold a public heari…

Hoping to avoid a legal battle with the Cayuga Nation, the village of Union Springs has revised its draft of a local law opting out of parts o…

SKANEATELES — The town of Skaneateles held a somewhat heated public information meeting Tuesday about New York state’s recently passed law leg…

As the Dec. 31 deadline approaches for municipalities to “opt out” of parts of New York state’s new marijuana law, several in the Cayuga Count…

Following an Oct. 31 report on Cayuga County municipalities “opting out” of parts of New York state’s marijuana law, The Citizen has learned o…

Despite its name, the village of Weedsport does not plan on becoming a place where marijuana can be legally purchased.

With its mayor and city councilors unanimously opposed to doing so, Auburn will not “opt out” of allowing recreational marijuana retailers and…

A Cayuga County town may have changed its mind about “opting out” of parts of New York state’s marijuana law.

New York state is still months away from allowing recreational marijuana retailers to open, but one business in Cayuga County apparently doesn…

The town and village of Skaneateles will each hear from the public one more time before making their decisions about “opting out” of parts of …

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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