Implementation of recently passed New York City legislation allowing recreational marijuana use for residents 21 and older is a year or two away, but Batavia City Council believes it’s not too early to provide as much information as possible gather and take the pulse citizens.
At their conference session today at City Hall, councilors and prosecutor George Van Nest had a 33-minute discussion of the new state law officially known as the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.
Councilor Robert Bialkowski asked for the issue to be put on the agenda and Batavian Sammy DiSalvo said during the public comment portion of the session that he wanted to know if the board had taken a position – either for or against.
“With the approval of the MRTA about three or four weeks ago, municipalities have until December 31 of this year to refuse approval. I think it’s either for sale or places where drugs, especially pots, can be used in leisure somehow, ”DiSalvo said. “Does the city tend to ban all of this? Because you can unsubscribe up to December 31st – after December 31st you can no longer unsubscribe, you can subscribe again. “
Van Nest agreed with this assessment, adding that municipalities can deregister “by passing local laws” and must do so before the end of 2021.
“If this local law is tabled, it will basically not go into effect for 45 days, so the public can put in a referendum or petition to get this issue before the electorate,” he said. “Essentially, then, what is required is a trigger of 10 percent of the electorate – more likely the electorate for the last electorate – and then, when a sufficient petition is filed with sufficient numbers, the question of whether or not the opt-out would go in front of the public in a subsequent election. “
Bialkowski opened the discussion and asked about the effects of secondhand smoke from marijuana on children. This prompted the President of the Council, Eugene Jankowski Jr., to point out that the use of marijuana, like cigarettes, is not permitted in city parks. However, under the new law, adults can smoke cannabis in their homes and on a public street.
Jankowski said he learned from a webinar with the New York Mayors’ Conference that companies would limit themselves to being either a grower, a seller, or a local place of consumption. He added that the state has set up a cannabis control panel, a group of five that will work with an advisory committee to set up the cannabis management bureau.
According to published reports, the CCB is expected to be in place within a few months, kicking off the process for licensing traders and formulating rules and regulations.
After Councilor Al McGinnis said federal marijuana laws will replace state laws, particularly federal government-run homes and the inability to buy a gun, Jankowski said it was wise to wait for the regulations to pass, and then the council instruct the city manager Rachael Tabelski to “be involved in the code enforcement planning process”.
Jankowski said he believes the city has limited ability other than defining the location of a pharmacy and possibly opening times. He said he liked the idea that the law expanded the control, regulation, and safety aspects of marijuana, which would discourage teenagers from getting their hands on it.
He also said he was interested in seeing communities with a pharmacy receive 3 percent of a 13 percent excise tax on marijuana sales.
Jankowski’s claim was that if Batavia opted out, a pharmacy could be set up outside the city limits and the city would miss out on revenue that could be used for increased police patrols or other measures to mitigate the negative effects of legalized pot smoking.
Councilor Rose Mary Christian did not buy this reasoning, however. She said that it is “absolutely right that it (marijuana) is already out there” and that the law was only passed because the state needs the money.
“They really don’t care about children or adults and the fact that they are constantly laden and causing accidents like they do in the state of Colorado,” she said, urging the council to log out as soon as possible.
Van Nest then weighed in, noting that, although use is authorized at this point, the actual sale will likely not take place until 2022 or 2023, as that is how long it will take for the regulatory agencies and parameters to set up consumption, growth and sales are. The lawyer also said cannabis is treated the same way as cigarettes and vaping when it comes to secondhand smoke.
“Regarding the zoning problem, it is up to the municipalities whether they want to regulate the time, place and manner or not,” he said.
Jankowski said he was advised that people will not be able to grow marijuana plants until all regulations are in place.
“I think a lot of people think, ‘Hey, in a couple of months I’ll have my own supply – it’s legal now.’ But technically they are not allowed to grow it because if you grow it and give it away it becomes an injury… ”he said.
The President of the Council then asked his colleagues how they felt about opting out.
Christian said she was in favor while Bialkowski raised the possibility of a public hearing to hear residents’ views. Van Nest said no to a public hearing but stated that a public briefing was appropriate.
After Jankowski said opting out wouldn’t really solve anything because people could buy marijuana and ship it back to town, Christian said she wasn’t worried about other areas, just the kids in Batavia.
Jankowski said it was not his responsibility to tell adults how to live their lives before Bialkowski suggested bringing someone outside – a professional – to a council meeting to train the board members.
At the opt-out, Jankowski said again: “Personally, I think it’s a waste of time, and we’re reducing ourselves by not at least regulating it, keeping an eye on it and keeping it close so that we can pay attention to what’s going on. If we have a problem, we at least have some money (from excise duty) to compensate for that problem. “
Councilors Patti Pacino and Kathleen Briggs said they would be assisting “an expert” who comes in to advise them on the provisions of the law, and Jankowski said he doesn’t want 500 people in a meeting where half are against and the other half, on the other hand, is “and not really solving anything.”
Councilor John Canale compared the situation to alcohol sales and concluded that if sales are banned in town because people “go in and buy it (pot) and bag in hand, it doesn’t do much to decline it go out. ”
Canale then suggested soliciting public input and asked residents to speak to their city council with their thoughts on the matter. He added that he didn’t think there was going to be a big outcry either way.
In the end, Jankowski said the issue would be “submitted for the time being” and reconsidered when the council hears more from the state. He then called on Tabelski to keep the council informed of new developments and again mentioned that the city would receive 3 percent of the excise tax generated from cannabis sales.
New York state officials say marijuana sales are expected to make the state $ 350 million a year and around 50,000 jobs will be created.
Before: The marijuana use debate takes a new turn after NYS legalized adult recreational use
During a special business meeting after the conference meeting, the city council made the following resolutions:
- Hiring a police officer and two firefighters and funding special police details after it was revealed that an additional $ 262,656 is being poured into the city for state aid and community funding incentives. Tabelski noted “the stability of AIM money” in her recommendation to vacate these positions, which remained vacant during budgetary deliberations.
- Contract with Keeler Construction Co. Inc. of Albion to replace an old and inefficient air collector – a key component for returning oxygen to the ponds to digest waste in the sewage treatment plant. The contract amount is $ 777,425. The air manifold replacement is part of a $ 1 million wastewater treatment project.
- Apply to the Northern Border Regional Commission for a $ 328,000 grant that would cover 80 percent of the cost of upgrading the water lines on Bank Street between Main Street and Washington Avenue to support future development projects and to improve water pressure to fight fires. The city would be responsible for 20 percent – or $ 82,000 – of the total cost of the project.