Board recommends Mina opt out on allowing pot dispensaries
By David Prenatt
FINDLEY LAKE — After five months of “frustrating” research, members of the Mina Planning Board attended the regular meeting of the Mina Town Board recently and recommended that the town opt out of allowing marijuana retail sales.
“It appears the state is forcing towns to make a quick decision, which we feel is not the best thing to do,” said Kris Gleason, planning board chairperson. “We recommend the town to wait; right now we feel it is the wrong time.”
The planning board began studying the issue April 12 when Mina Supervisor Rebecca Brumagin asked them to review it, Gleeson said. She noted that the law involves four areas: retail dispensaries, on-site consumption, where individuals can smoke, and personal cultivation regulations.
However, the study was no easy task, Gleason said. Board members researched the matter for five months, including five meetings of the board which entailed 10 to 112 hours of discussion, she said.
The problem was that the state had initiated very few regulations regarding cannabis, Gleason said. In fact, the state Cannabis Control Board was just created a few weeks ago.
“There was just no way of obtaining information from the state about regulations,” she said.
The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act went into effect on March 31, creating “a comprehensive regulatory structure to oversee the licensure, cultivation, production, distribution, sale and taxation of medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp within New York state.”
Planning board member Pat Cuneo reiterated the difficulty the board faced in its research.
“Ours was a study in frustration,” he said. “What we found is that New York, although they passed a law in March, did not set up the regulations. I think it dawned on all of us that the risky move was to opt in.”
Board member John Schifler said that at the beginning planning board members thought the research would be similar to studying alcohol regulations.
“We became greatly disturbed once we found out there are very few laws regulating this,” he said. “The more we researched, the deeper we became disturbed.”
The board studied a situation in the state of Colorado where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012. Five or six large cities in Colorado that have dispensaries and approximately 70 out of 170 small towns have opted in, Gleason said.
“On a personal note, I struggle to understand how opting in would make lives better for all the people in this area,” she said.
The state Office of Cannabis Management has recently clarified the role of municipalities.
“Cities, towns, and villages can opt-out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses from locating within their jurisdictions. Municipalities cannot opt-out of adult-use legalization.” the state office wrote.
The Office of Cannabis Management further advises, that to opt-out, a municipality must pass a local law by Dec. 31, 2021.
“This means that if a municipality has already passed a local law or measure prohibiting adult-use cannabis licenses from operating in its jurisdiction, the municipality will have to pass a new local law conforming to the opt-out requirements outlined in the MRTA.” Additionally, “if a municipality does not opt-out by December 31, 2021, the municipality will be unable to opt-out at a future date. However, a municipality may opt back in, to allow either, or both, adult-use retail dispensary or on-site consumption license types by repealing the local law which established the prohibition.”
“We will be having a public hearing regardless of what the town’s decision will be,” Brumagin said.
She said the town board’s next meeting on Sept. 9 will include a question-and-answer session about the issue.