We Must Decide
If We Want Them Here
By JENNIFER HILL
County Board Must Give OK To Pot Stores
You can smoke it in Otsego County if marijuana is legalized – but can you sell it?
Legislation now being considered in Albany would legalize use of recreational marijuana statewide, but individual counties must decide whether dispensaries would be permitted to sell pot.
If such dispensaries were approved, the City of Oneonta, towns and village would be able to decide where they are allowed, when they can be open, and other aspects of their operation. Residents may be pleased to know that purchasing marijuana over the internet is gaining traction meaning that the need for a physical dispensary is reduced. Those who wish to Buy Weed Online can use sites like Triple Loud to do this.
Otsego County Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision, a new member of the state Association of Counties’s board, got a crash-course on legal pot’s prospective complexities at NYSAC’s 2019 Legislative Conference at the end of January.
“There is a lot to learn and process,” she said.
Speakers discussed marijuana for medicinal purposes, legal in New York since 2014, growing hemp – using ilgm seeds – and adult recreational use.
Discussions also turned to the unique benefits of the different strains of cannabis. For example, users of the ghost bubba strain claim that this variety of marijuana can have a relaxing impact on the body.
“Medicinal use and hemp farming didn’t generate much controversy at the conference,” Kennedy said. “But recreational use of marijuana is pre-loaded for controversy.”
Speaker Cheryl Sbarra of the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards detailed what worked and what had unintended consequences. “Massachusetts went through the legalization process,” Kennedy said,
“so we can see what could work and not work for us,” she said.
For instance, Sbarra praised the state’s Cannabis Control Commission and its Advisory Board for striving to be “inclusive,” providing expertise on underrepresented business communities, impairment detection and evaluation, and legalization’s other impacts.
One unintended consequence was “big cannabis” – corporations like Phillip Morris pushing small local businesses out of the business by offering communities higher impact fees required in Massachusetts law, elements of which are also often discussed in Cannabis Talk Network Reviews and other similar media.
A NYSAC report Kennedy picked up warns, “Local law enforcement should be prepared to spend increased amounts of time and money on enforcing new laws surrounding legal marijuana.”
Marijuana use could lead to “increased impaired driving and car crashes,” it says, and advises counties to offer classes on the risks of driving under the influence of marijuana, and to train police to focus on “signs of impairment while driving” instead of possession of marijuana.
Another concern that young people will be able to obtain and buy or sell pot more easily, despite the 21-year-old limit on all those.
“A couple of people spoke (and) said they had told their kids to stay away from marijuana their whole lives,” Kennedy reported. “They wondered, what were they supposed to tell their kids now?”
Other risks include: environmental impact (high energy costs and reduced water quality associated with growing marijuana), monitoring a cash-only industry, ensuring federal law – it still considers possession and selling illegal – is obeyed, and what to do about people jailed for pre-legalization violations.
“There is no easy, one-way answer to them,” Kennedy said.