North Country neighbors take different paths on the pot

BOONVILLE – Two cities in the north of the country have made two very different decisions regarding cannabis and its sale in their municipalities.

On December 29, Boonville City Council held a public hearing and then voted to refuse to allow cannabis dispensaries or on-site cannabis dispensaries in the city.

Representatives of Pantheon Collective LLC were present, including CEO Tyme Ferris and his partner Thomas Kupiec. Ferris explained Pantheon’s interest in starting a cannabis micro-business in Boonville and distributing various types of marijuana across the state using local farmers to grow the product or renting their land for marijuana cultivation. Manufacturing would take place in Boonville and ship to distributors statewide.

Despite the interest, Boonville’s board of directors voted 3 to 2 in favor of opting out. Boonville City Supervisor David Stocklosa said in a statement that city council members supporting the withdrawal made the decision out of caution.

“These members have decided that there is not enough information about the state regulations that are still pending,” Stocklosa wrote. “The council will work on this and will notify the public of any changes.”

The opt-out can be revoked at any time by Boonville City Council, officials said.

Next door, the town of Leyden has become the only municipality in Lewis County that has not opted out, allowing adult marijuana-focused businesses like dispensaries, cafes and bars to open in city.

Leiden Mayor Rosalie White said in a published report that the decision was taken unanimously by the four-member council and was surprised that Leiden was the only municipality to do so. “People are going to get it somewhere,” White said. “They will go to the next town or city, and at this stage I don’t think anyone is considering having him here. But things like that could change in the future.

During a board meeting, the UP! The Lewis County Coalition raised concerns with Leyden Council that marijuana is a gateway drug – a concern the council did not share. Concerns about marijuana being smoked in youth parks and playgrounds were moot, with White saying smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol are also restricted in those areas, according to the report.

While communities had until Dec. 31 to refuse to allow on-site cannabis dispensaries or cannabis lounges, they cannot change state law that legalized the recreational use of marijuana with a age limit of 21, like cigarettes and alcohol, and legalized the cultivation of a small amount of marijuana for personal use.

State officials say about 40% of New York’s roughly 1,500 municipalities withdrew from legal pot sales before the Dec. 31 deadline. These municipalities can then decide to participate. State law permits the use of cannabis in public spaces, although New Yorkers cannot smoke or vape marijuana in places prohibited by state law, including workplaces, indoor bars and restaurants, colleges and universities, hospitals and within 100 feet of a school.

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