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Pomfret officials talk marijuana options

Town of Pomfret officials talked about marijuana at this week’s meeting.

With pot recently legalized in New York state, each municipality in the state must decide whether to “opt out” of allowing legally licensed sales of the drug. Pomfret Supervisor Dan Pacos noted there are actually two opt-out areas. Municipalities can opt out of dispensaries where marijuana is sold in a pharmacy-like setting, and/or they can opt out of so-called “social use areas” where people can smoke marijuana on-site, which will be set up more like coffeehouses or bars.

However, as Pacos noted, municipalities that opt out will be cut off from any tax revenue coming out of legalized pot.

“I don’t want to opt out of anything that gets us money,” said Chris Schaeffer, town board member.

Town Attorney Jeff Passafaro told the board, “There’s all sorts of licenses and you don’t control any of that.” He added that even if a local municipality opted out of allowing pot sales, the state marijuana control board could still site a dispensary there if it wanted to.

“If you don’t opt out, you can restrict by zoning,” Passafaro said.

The attorney noted that there is a constricted time frame on this decision. All municipalities must decide whether or not to opt out by year’s end.

“My gut reaction is we’d want to be in because we should have some control and some revenue streams,” said Town Councilwoman Ann Eckman.

Passafaro noted the village of Fredonia, which is within Pomfret’s borders, will not be affected by the Town Board’s decision. Board members speculated that most marijuana sellers would want to locate in the village, although it is possible someone would seek to set up shop in a short stretch of commercially zoned land on Route 60.

If the board decides not to opt out of pot sales, according to Passafaro, it doesn’t need to take any action. He again suggested unspecified zoning code revisions if they stay in and fail to opt out.

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