By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – The legalization of marijuana is coming soon to the state and Oneonta should begin preparing for it.
That was Mayor Gary Herzig’s big news from the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) in Albany, specifically in the meeting of the Community Development Committee of Mayors. which Herzig co-chairs.
“This is something that is coming,” the mayor told Common Council’s Community Development Committee at its meeting this evening. “It…could impact our future and we should start thinking about it, positively or negatively. I don’t have judgment on it either way.”
Herzig said Governor Cuomo’s marijuana legalization proposal had a couple of components important for Otsego County’s and Oneonta’s future. One of them is giving counties or populous cities (200,000+ residents or more) an “opt out,” allowing them to opt out of selling marijuana through official retail dispensaries.
“It means the City of Oneonta will have no say. If Otsego County opts out, we’re out. If Otsego County ops in, we’re in,” Herzig said. “Opting out means, the sale of cannabis will not be allowed in your county.”
The legalization bill will prohibit public use throughout the state, but Herzig said Otsego County residents will be able to legally use cannabis privately even if the county opts out of allowing the selling of it.
However, Herzig said if Otsego County opts in for the selling of marijuana, the city will still be able to determine zones for the dispensaries that will be used to sell it.
“The Council could think about certain areas where selling it is prohibited and certain areas where it’s not. Just like we zone for bars or hotels, you could zone for dispensaries,” he explained.
Herzig also reported that Cuomo is proposing high sales taxes on the sale of marijuana: a state sales tax of 20 percent of the sale from wholesaler to retail dispensary and a local/county sales tax of 2 percent of the sale from wholesaler to retail dispensary.
“As of now, that tax revenue will not be shared with cities,” Herzig stated. “This is something that will meet with considerable resistance from mayors, which legislators will address.”
“We should make the most of positives and minimalize the negatives,” he concluded.