After listening to public comments by several residents in a regular board meeting outside Village Hall on Sept. 13, the village board of trustees unanimously voted to prohibit the retail sale of cannabis and the operation of dispensaries in the village.
The decision prompted reactions from those who delivered the final public comments to the board before the vote.
Joe Adipietro, the program director for the RVC Youth Coalition, spoke in favor of the opt-out. Adipietro, a licensed mental health and substance abuse professional for nearly 30 years, spoke about what he has seen in his patients that cannabis use may have contributed to.
“The majority of the patients that I have seen over the years with severe mental health conditions — prior to that diagnosis, they most all have one thing in common: they started using marijuana,” Adipietro said. “It also sends the wrong message to youth. They think that if something is legal, nothing is wrong with it.”
Resident Mary Ellen Nofi said she was also pleased to see the village opt out. “I always felt that people trying to make money at the expense of young people is very unfair and unnecessary,” Nofi said. “I’m happy. I feel like they’re in our corner. They care about their children and grandchildren.”
Corey Anderson was the lone dissenting voice, arguing that officials should allow cannabis dispensaries. “In five years, when you realize that another town has repaved their roads with their $5 million tax revenue,” Anderson said, “I think we’re going to look and say we might’ve made a mistake here.”
Commenting on whether the sale of marijuana would lead to more criminal activity in the village, Anderson noted the occasional alcohol-related incidents on weekend nights, and said he wasn’t arguing to make alcohol illegal instead of cannabis.
When former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to legalize marijuana on April 30, New York became the 15th state to make its recreational use lawful. In early March, the U.S. cannabis industry hit a record $17.5 billion in sales, increasing 46 percent since 2019, according to a report by the cannabis sales data platform BDSA.
The 128-page Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act addressed everything from enforcement and criminal justice reform to how taxes would be levied on marijuana producers and retailers and how the dollars would be spent. Towns and villages had the choice of whether to permit marijuana sales.
Among the major provisions in the legislation was the creation of a new agency to regulate marijuana sales. The Office of Cannabis Management and its five-person governing board are the chief entity responsible for regulating the state’s marijuana industry, setting the number of sale and use permits allowed per region, as well as recommending regulations, among other responsibilities.
The legislation also expunged arrest records statewide for low-level marijuana offenses.
Forty percent of tax dollars generated from the industry are slated to go to a fund for social equity, which would aid several support service programs, such as workforce development and programs for families who have been hurt by drug enforcement laws. Taxes on cannabis sales will also help fund law enforcement and education programs to ensure that underage children do not have access to marijuana, and that police are better able to enforce DUI laws.
Local governments that opt in are eligible for 4 percent of the tax revenue.