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Town of North Elba and Village of Lake Placid hold cannabis information session

In March, New York state’s marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act went into effect, allowing medicinal and adult recreational use of cannabis. All municipalities must now decide whether to allow dispensaries or on-site pot lounges in their communities. The Town of North Elba and village of Lake Placid held an informational session on the law Wednesday.

Lake Placid and North Elba officials invited the author of “A Town’s Official Guide to Cannabis,” Sara Brancatella from the New York Association of Towns, to lead an information session on what town and local governments are allowed to do as New York allows marijuana sales.

Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin began the Zoom meeting stressing that it was not a formal public hearing.

“We are here today for a public information session to discuss whether the village and town should allow cannabis dispensaries and/or onsite consumption lounges. Keep in mind this is not a discussion on if cannabis should be legal. That decision was made in New York state on March 31st.”

Association of Towns Legislative Director Brancatella presented an overview of the law and options for municipalities. She said the new law is broad ranging and she focused on the role of local governments.

“The regulation of cannabis it is regulated from soup to nuts. And you have to have a license at each different stage of the procedure from cultivating to the end result of selling to the consumer. So I think under Article 3 there are actually 11 different types of licenses," Brancatella explains. "Retail dispensaries and onsite consumption those are the only two where your town or village has any authority. They are expressly preempted by the state from regulating in relation to any other type of license. That means that the state has said in the legislation that your town or village cannot adopt any local laws, any regulations, any local rules on any other type of thing.”

Brancatella explained that the town and/or village is allowed to adopt local laws opting out of retail and consumption sites.

“If the town adopts a local law opting out it is only going to be applicable in that area of the town that lies outside the village. The village has the authority to make its own determination. So if the town ops out but the village does not adopt a local law opting out then the opt out only applies in the town outside of the village," said Brancatella. "Technically you don’t have to opt in. You don’t have to do anything if you want to allow establishments to operate within your jurisdiction. It’s only when you don’t want a retail dispensary or an onsite consumption site that you have to adopt this local law.”

A number of questions came in via Zoom. Some asked about limits on the number of cannabis stores or whether a town can opt back in if it opts out.

During public comments Lake Placid Central School Superintendent Tim Seymour expressed a number of concerns.

“Retail dispensaries pose unique challenges to schools. In addition to normalizing the use of recreational drugs products sold in dispensaries are designed to be appealing to young adults and children. The law limits the location of dispensaries and consumption sites to 500 feet or greater from school but given the walkability of large areas within the district catchment this distance does not seem adequate or suitable to act as a meaningful deterrent in promoting the consumption of or purchase of marijuana in the community.”

Public comments are being accepted by email by the North Elba Community Development Director at hbreen@ northelba.org until October 8th

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