By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk held a virtual meeting on November 8 to present information about marijuana legalization in New York and how it might affect Cooperstown.
There was a PowerPoint presentation during the meeting, which was opened up to comments or questions at the end. However, no public comments or questions were made.
This meeting was held two days before a vote is to take place on whether to draft an opt-out law, on Wednesday, November 10.
Tillapaugh said the passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was an “enormous shift in public policy.”
The law allows people to possess three ounces of marijuana and 20 ounces of concentrated cannabis oil.
It is not yet legal to sell, although the newly formed Cannabis Control Board and Office of Cannabis Management are in the process of creating regulations for retail sale.
Ms. Falk said there were “still a lot of unknowns” about how cannabis would be regulated including the number of licenses issued statewide.
One of the slides showed some of the revenue made as a result of legalization in Massachusetts including the town Lee, which made $16 million in its first year, Williamstown, which made $3.7 million in the first six months, and Great Barrington, which made $115 million.
Ms. Falk said the numbers were “large, but not necessarily predictable.”
Other data showed there were traffic accident spikes in States that had legalized marijuana earlier, including Colorado, but Falk said the study “indicates a correlation but not necessarily causation.”
Municipalities, including Cooperstown, have until December 31 to decide whether to opt out of retail sales. If they do, a permissive referendum could be held or the village could call for a public referendum for the March election.
MacGuire Benton, village trustee, said he would not be voting to draft the law at the November 10 meeting.
“I’m very open about my support for cannabis,” Mr. Benton said. “Who am I and who are my colleagues to say no to an industry that’s highly regulated?”
He said it’s possible Cooperstown could make $15,000 off every $1 million worth of sales which he said is “money that will be put to good use, especially since we’re coming out of a recession and a public health crisis we’ve never seen before.”
“$15,000 will go a long way,” Mr. Benton said. “I’ve been going door to door talking to constituents about it and I met no aggressive opposition.”
He said the benefits will be “very diverse” who said one elderly person told him how edibles were important to them.
“It’s all kinds of people who will benefit from the products right here in our community,” Mr. Benton said. He emphasized how the industry was highly regulated. “If there was opposition against it, we would hear it and we would see it.”
There need to be four votes against drafting the law. If it doesn’t pass, Cooperstown likely wouldn’t opt out.