Dan Graves, a Wellsville military veteran with a prescription for medical marijuana, has to travel to Amherst to get to the nearest dispensary.
He would like an option much closer to home.
Graves is not alone, as Wellsville residents urged village council to allow dispensaries and marijuana smoking sites in a public hearing Monday night that drew about 50 residents to the David A. Howe.
The village council, like all New York State municipalities, must make a choice by Dec. 31 – to pull out of dispensaries and consumption sites, a decision that could later be overturned, or be overturned. register there definitively. Local governments that take no action automatically opt for state policy.
Graves said he spent about $ 4,200 on medical marijuana this year.
âIf you pull out, one of the things you don’t consider is the street vendors in Wellsville. I’d rather have a clinic on Main Street that has cameras on itâ¦ than someone treating on the street next to me, âGraves said. “I use it. It’s expensive to use medical marijuana. Whether you choose to opt out or participate, it’s still going to happen in the village, whether you do it legally like I do or next to. “
Wellsville Residents Highlight Economic Potential
Graves was among a dozen residents to speak at the public hearing, seven in favor of joining and five against. Like Graves, other residents have encouraged the board to capitalize on the legal marijuana market.
âIt is not at all for us to pass up this economic opportunity,â said Erica Brundage. âLook around, we are really struggling. We need taxpayers’ money. It is our responsibility to build a strong economy for our children, for ourselves and for the future.
The state has indicated that sales of marijuana will be taxed at a rate of about 13%, of which 9% will go to the state, 3% to the city or town where the sale is made, and 1% to the county.
âIf you don’t (opt in) those dollars will go to Hornell, they will go to Olean or any other nearest town or village that has opted to open clinics, because people are going to ‘go buy this wherever they can,’ Carolann Garrison said.
In addition to sales tax revenue, supporters say the membership would fuel the growth of Wellsville businesses and Allegany County agriculture. Wellsville native Andrew Harris founded the Highlands Cannabis Cooperative to bring together cannabis growers, retailers, investors and farmers. The network will âseek to bring together independent cannabis companies for a common cause: to thrive in this emerging market and work together for mutual benefitâ.
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Wellsville attorney Ed Pekarek spoke on behalf of Harris and the co-op. Pekarek pointed to comments from Jen Metzger, a member of the Cannabis Control Board who previously chaired the Agriculture Committee in the state Senate.
âShe knows a lot about these issues, and she says the cannabis industry offers huge opportunities for New York farmers,â Pekarek said. âThis speaks to the issue of the farmer in distress. I imagine everyone in this room knows at least one farmer in distress in one way or another. We are a farming community in the heart of our county, in this village and this town. “
Pekarek also provided village officials with several hundred pages of documentation on marijuana legislation, public safety and health research, and the potential impact on local commerce and employment.
Marijuana Opponents Highlight Health Concerns
Other residents disagreed with the possibility of marijuana having a positive impact on the village. David Williams said Wellsville should not “bow to the almighty dollar” and open the door to dispensaries and consumption sites.
âThere are many healthy ways to boost our economy that don’t involve using drugs,â Williams said. âTo me, it’s the same argument people want to use to legalize things like prostitution. Well it happens anyway, so let’s make it legal. Drug abuse, well, let’s make it legal and then they can shoot themselves in a safe place. It encourages behavior that is harmful to people and harmful to our community. “
Others have raised public health concerns that have been disputed by proponents of marijuana. Public health advocates in Allegany County have spoken out in favor of removing the village. Jon Chaffee, coordinator for Partners for Prevention in Allegany County, noted that the state’s Office of Cannabis Management has yet to release licensing and retail policies.
âThe THC level in current marijuana is much higher than it was 30 to 40 years ago,â added William Penman, executive director of the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. âIt’s not your Woodstock weed. It’s not like your marijuana that was in the 70s.
Brundage said part of the discussion around the marijuana issue highlighted “an undercurrent of not wanting a certain type of people on the main street or in the village.”
âHere I am, judge me if you like, but responsible people are using marijuana,â she said. âI would say it’s the responsible people who have the money to buy it most of the time. Do not be afraid.
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The village board had previously indicated that it was leaning towards the withdrawal due to a lack of clear direction from the state. Following the public hearing, council formally postponed the vote on the withdrawal to its November 22 meeting.
Gary Barnes, an Allegany County lawmaker who represents Wellsville, opposes the legalization of marijuana. Barnes urged the board to stay the course and step back.
âThere shouldn’t be a rush to jump on this for both sides,â Barnes said. âWe have to take a step back, see how this thing is going to work, and then make the decision to opt if you want to at a later date, which could be a year or 10 years from now. The only thing is if we opt now we can never get out unless the state changes the law and that will never happen. “
If the village chooses to opt out, resident Angela Graves has urged the board to institute a transparent timeline to reconsider the option once the state finalizes its marijuana regulations.
“I’m afraid otherwise it’s just a ruse for NIMBYism – not in my backyard,” said Graves, a professor at Alfred State. âMarijuana is sold every day in communities across the country. It won’t change here in Wellsville whether we retire or not. The withdrawal will create a black market area and it will hit the borders as we see all of these economic opportunities unfolding around us. “