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Village board mulls options on marijuana dispensaries

OBSERVER Photo by Anthony Dolce Pictured is Village Clerk Roxanne Astry, Village Mayor Bill Dorman and Trustee Cindy Flaherty.

CASSADAGA — With the deadline looming on municipalities looking to opt out of having dispensaries, the Cassadaga Village Board agreed to table the issue to do more research on the benefits of such facilities, as well as possibly hear more from the community.

While the village can’t outlaw use of cannabis in the house or on private property, they can opt to not have dispensaries in the village, but they would lose out on the funding that comes from the tax generated from sales.

“I think the cities are naturally going to have them,” said village attorney Joseph Calimeri. “They won’t want to miss out on the revenue, but the smaller, self-sufficient villages and towns might not.”

Despite being forced to make a decision soon, there are a lot of questions that remain for the village and other municipalities. There is no defined THC limit on what is allowed, as currently it is only measured by the weight.

“The other issue I haven’t been able to find an answer for is, let’s say you opt out, and the board composition changes, and they want to opt in,” Calimeri said. “What’s the process for opting back in?”

In addition, Calimeri also added the issue of where it falls in the village zoning scheme.

“Are you going to put special limitations on zoning?” Calimeri asked, “because you could allow it and then make the zoning so difficult, you’re really just confining it to one spot. All of this is being thrown at the municipalities and there’s still a lot of uncertainty.”

Members of the board weren’t necessarily outright opposed to opting in, but favored doing more research into the benefits, including the possibility of talking to experts on the subject to further understand the positives and negatives.

“I’d like to get someone who owns a dispensary some place to come in,” said trustee Cindy Flaherty. “I’d like to hear what the benefits are and what the negative aspects are before we make a choice.”

Should the board decide to draft the opt out law, the village would have to hold a public hearing.

“It probably depends on whether or not your adjacent towns allow it,” Calimeri said. “There’s going to be other outlets in Chautauqua County.”

In wanting to get more research and learn more about how zoning and amount can be enforced, the issue was tabled by the Cassadaga Village Board until its next meeting.

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