MARIJUANA: “WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION.” STATE TAKES 80% OF LEGAL MARIJUANA SALES.

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WPCNR  CANNABIS FORECAST. By  John F. Bailey. October 13, 2021:

A meeting was held by the Council of Neighborhood Associations at request of the Rosedale Residential Association on the City of White Plains consideration of  approving medical marijuana.dispenaries and cannabis retail outlets in the city. A total of 15 attended

There are two kinds of marijuana outlets proposed: dispensaries of medical prescribed marijuana  or cannabis lounges that will sell  New York grown marijuana exclusively recreational variants, (or both kinds of establishments) in White Plains. The atmosphere was tense with apprehension simmering  all evening  of how approval of such establishments or denial of them will affect White Plains.

It ended with a statement by  a resident who said that there was not enough information for citizens to feel confident about allowing the introduction of these businesses in. She said it was the responsibility of the Common Council and the Mayor  to make clear  the terms and regulations, conditions  the city will be accepting these establishments.

Her statement summed up the mixed concerns voiced throughout the hour and a half meeting, overriding was a lack of information from the city on specifics of deployment of the establishments, regulation, enforcement and quality of life.

Michael Bowers owner of White Plains Vapors (in business since  2014) , 210 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains,  was invited to the meeting to explain how the new state-approved cannabis law would work though the Office of Cannabis Management

Listeners learned that the Commission is now formulating regulations that Bowers expected would be ready by January, then submitted for comment to organizations, growers, possible franchisees, cities and towns, with final regulations expected by Spring, 2022, but timetable is uncertain.

(Governor Hochul just appointed the commissioner last week.)

Cities and towns under the new law must choose to opt out of medical dispensaries or “cannabis lounges” by December 31, Bowers said.

 White Plains has 78 days for the Common Council to either accept only medical dispensaries, or Cannabis Lounges, or both, or opt out altogether. However, Bowers said the city could change its mind and accept them later.

It is the responsibility of the Common Council to deny them by the 31st or accept them by doing nothing or ceremonially approving. No referendums are planned at this time.

Justin Brasch, Common Council member attended (on the right) with Richard Payne a first-time Council Candidate on left

Councilperson Justin Brasch in attendance was asked if the council had received details from the city administration on how the establishments, if approved would be run and the benefits.  

Brasch said the Mayor had talked with several councilpersons  including himself about it and given him and the other councilpersons a lengthy document on the proposal. He said he had not read it thoroughly yet. 

Asked repeatedly if a forum could be organized for residents to learn about the project, Brasch was understanding of the need for full  information but could not commit whether a forum was possible.  (Regulations issued by the state, as Bowers   the White Plains Vapors owner said, were not formed yet.)

Bowers in response to questions said that the 13% excise tax on marijuana sales would be shared with the cities and said only about 1% to 3% of the 13% would go to the cities and towns “opting in.”

Lauren Yates of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise Lake Placid News in Elba, NY confirmed the tax split Bowers spoke of last night in today’s October 13 issue reporting that the town of Elba and the Lake Placid summer resort community so concerned they were holding a public forum meeting on it to wit: :

In their meeting Tuesday evening, Sept. 14, members of the North Elba Town Council moved to hold a joint public round-table discussion with the Lake Placid village board on the new state cannabis law.

North Elba town Supervisor Jay Rand cited the law that states“cities, towns and villages have the ultimate choice of whether they would like to allow dispensaries and on-site consumption lounges within their limits.”

To opt in, municipalities do nothing. To opt out, they pass a local law saying so by Dec. 31. If a municipality chooses to opt out, the decision can be rescinded, but once rescinded, it could not opt out again.

“That’s the one shot we have if we want to do that,” Rand said.

There will be a 13% tax on sales of marijuana products — with the state giving a 3% cut to municipalities and 1% to counties.

While town board members refrained from voicing their direct opinions on the decision Tuesday, they did express the need for broad community input before finalizing anything. Rand said the Association of Towns of the State of New York recommends that communities experiencing some hesitation from residents or lawmakers regarding the new law should hold a public meeting on the topic. The Association of Towns has “A Town Officials’ Official Guide to Cannabis” PDF available on its website.

Rand spoke with Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin on the matter, and they decided that North Elba and Lake Placid would benefit from a joint public forum.” Ms. Yates reports in The Lake Placid News.

Bowers reported the cost of CBD was high in the dispensaries around $58, and the recreational variants of cannabis, again grown exclusively in NY by NY “cultivators” would sell recreational cannabis varieties at more expensive or less expensive prices. He said the medical dispensaries were tightly secured with three identity checks before a prescription could be filled.  

Handful of towns opt out so far OFFICE OF CANNABIS MANAGEMENT MUM ON NUMBER:

Tiffany Cusaack-Smith in a USA Today syndicated article reported the Office of Cannabis Management did not respond to her request to reveal how many towns and cities across the state had already opted out of the program. She quoted Gerry Geist, the executive director of the State Association of Towns as saying,

While a handful of towns have already decided to opt out, right now most towns are in the process of trying to gauge how their residents feel about the potential of having retail dispensaries and on site consumption establishments in the area”

It was not clear how the “cannabis lounges” would secure their sales. Sales are only allowed to persons over 21. It was unclear whether liquor could be sold in cannabis lounges to supplement the Cannabis purchase.  Police he said now will not arrest you for possession of less than three ounces of marijuana and that a person could purchase 15 ounces individually from an approved establishments coming.

Those in attendance wondered why purchases at cannabis lounges to come could not be resold in parking lots.  Bowers said the packages were marked and could be traced to the establishment selling it.

It is unclear how this would actually would work from an enforcement and tracing standpoint.

Currently in White Plains it is legal to smoke anything in open air outdoor seating, or open air upper decks or rooftops of establishments. Smoking is also o.k. outdoors anywhere in the city.

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