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Fredonia pot panel sticks to the facts

Fredonia’s Cannabis Advisory Committee and village officials do not take an official stance about the drug’s usage and legalization, its founder said earlier this month.

“The board and the team are not advocates or detractors of the use of any substance,” Fredonia Trustee Jon Espersen said at Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting. “The law is the law and our task is to make sure the village is aware of the laws, the changing regulations and where the village stands.”

Reporting on committee business, Espersen said it has tasked people with contacting villages similar in size and college population where cannabis has been legal for some time, to find out their hurdles in implementing sales.

“We don’t want to reinvent a wheel,” he said. “If we can learn the mistakes that they have made and avoid them, then I think that would behoove us.” A report on what the contacts found will come at the next committee meeting.

Espersen noted that there are opportunities for business related to cannabis growing. “An ancillary business might be a store that sold aeration equipment or soil, they just can’t sell seeds or plants, but they can sell product to help individuals to grow the plant,” he said. “Those opportunities are available now, that could be opened now.”

There’s nine different cannabis sales licenses available from the state, and Espersen encouraged anyone interested in one to contact his committee.

“We’re working on zoning laws now, placements,” he said. “I’ve got a scalable map of the village so we can determine exactly where a dispensary or a lounge can and cannot be, based on distance from a church or a village property, school, daycare, park, any of those things.”

Adding that Fredonia was one of the few municipalities planning for the possibility of a dispensary, he concluded, “I think it behooves us to get as far ahead of the cart as we possibly can.”

Mayor Douglas Essek said, “If I implied that this board was for or against (cannabis legalization), I apologize.” Essek has been a skeptic of cannabis legalization and made statements to that effect at previous village meetings.

Espersen said, “I didn’t assume that. … One thing I did want to say is, it might be time for the village to consider no smoking signs on village properties, because wherever tobacco is permitted, cannabis is permitted as well. There’s obviously places in the village where we don’t want that to happen. And there is no local law about where you can and cannot smoke, other than not in restaurants, sidewalks, etc.”

He said there are no-smoking signs up on some of the village playgrounds, but not its parks.

Trustee David Bird said restrictions on smoking ought to extend to within 50 or 75 feet of parks. He noted that smoke travels and there is currently a situation where people are smoking just outside the Barker Street Playground, and it’s blowing into the playground. Espersen said he and Police Chief David Price planned a conversation with the owner of the property where the smoke is coming from.

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