By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Before reacting, the Village Board is waiting to see what the marijuana-legalization bill due to pass the state Legislature April 1 looks like.
But Trustee Mac Benton, who brought the issue before the trustees at their monthly meeting Monday, March 22, is determined to push for pot-selling “storefronts” in Baseball’s mecca, seeing it as an economic-development opportunity too good to ignore.
If the new law doesn’t give the village the authority to make the decision to sell or to manufacture marijuana products, Benton said he will encourage fellow trustees to urge the county Board of Representatives to allow the village to do so.
“It the decision goes to the county,” Benton said in a text, “I’ll urge my fellow trustees to sign onto a letter to the county strongly recommending that Otsego NOT opt out.”
According to Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, there are two bills now under consideration.
One, from the Governor’s Office, will require all the provisions of the act to be enforced statewide.
The second, supported by the New York State Conference of Mayors, would allow local governments to “opt out,” thus prohibiting marijuana outlets in their jurisdictions.
Tillapaugh said she supports the second law, but it’s unclear who will do the opting out. In past proposals, it’s been cities over 100,000 and counties; but a new law might extend the opt-out provision to all levels of government.
Nobody’s sure until the final marijuana-legalization bill is passed into law.
In 2019, the last time Governor Cuomo sought legalization, he tried to put it in his budget, which would not have required senators and assemblymen to go on the record.
State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, said this time “I’m pretty sure it will pass by a majority in a separate vote.”
While he intends to vote “no,” Oberacker said he favors the opt-out option. “If (localities) want to, they could opt in. It is more of a local decision.”