Putnam County officers are blowing smoke on New York’s marijuana law

By Rick Pezzullo and Anna Young

Mary Ellen Odell, the executive director of Putnam County, is against legalizing marijuana in New York, which is being used as one of the new sources of tax revenue to fill a budget gap.

Putnam County officials are fighting against Governor Andrew Cuomo and other heads of state who are using marijuana legalization as one of the new sources of tax revenue to fill a budget gap.

“This is a money heist from NYS at the expense of the health and safety of our communities,” said Mary Ellen Odell, executive director of Putnam County. “I understand that due to the mismanagement of the NYS budget in the past, the state wants to generate a new source of income, but at what cost? The average person will look at marijuana legalization and say, “It doesn’t affect me.” But it is naive to think that its use will not increase among our young people. Will our roads be safer? It’s like your parents always told you, “Just because your friends do it doesn’t make it right.”

The state plans to set up a cannabis management office to enforce the new marijuana regulations. Cuomo has forecast that New York state will generate $ 350 million annually in tax revenue from adult cannabis.

The state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana is 9% and the local excise tax is 4%. Communities that allow marijuana stores to open will receive 75 percent of local tax revenue under the new law. Counties receive 25 percent of the local tax.

For every $ 1 million worth of marijuana sold in Putnam County, the communities where it was sold would split $ 30,000.

Under the new state law to legalize adult marijuana, towns and villages have the option to ban the drug’s sale if they pass a ban by the end of this year. Municipalities can also regulate where and when marijuana can be sold by passing new zoning laws.

Odell urges community leaders to think long and hard before allowing marijuana to be sold within their borders.

“We already have an opioid crisis. We don’t need a state that makes it easier for people to start early with drugs that can endanger them and affect their quality of life,” said Toni Addonizio, Chair of the Putnam County Legislature. “We are only just getting through the COVID-19 epidemic. It is unacceptable that the state should impose this potential public health crisis on us. “

In Patterson, warden Richard Williams urged the city government to exercise caution in considering whether the community should turn state law on or off. If the city complies with the law, he said the boards can be “hands-tied” in deciding where marijuana can be dispensed and consumed, even though legislation allows jurisdictions to enact certain zoning rules.

With marijuana grown in a controlled environment like a warehouse or greenhouse with 24-hour lights, Williams said the state would set the criteria for where this could happen.

“It could end up in a backyard, which is a very big problem,” Williams said at a city government meeting on April 14th. “The good news is that we would get some tax revenue from this, but as our county executive recently pointed out, if we had $ 1 million in revenue, that would be allocated to all communities that allow the use and sale of pots of $ 30,000 be shared between them. “

Williams said this wasn’t a great source of income considering the impact it could have on the community.

Williams added that he had written a memo that would be sent to state officials on the matter. He noted that the board had about nine months to decide whether to allow sales or consumption anywhere within Patterson’s boundaries.

“In the future we will discuss whether we will choose it or not,” he said.