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Village of Brockport split on legalizing marijuana

by Bridgette Babb
Thu, Apr 4th 2019 11:00 pm

The legalization of marijuana in New York State has been a controversial topic for some time now. Though 10 states have allowed for the use of medical marijuana, some New York residents are hesitant about Governor Cuomo’s plan to legalize recreational weed. The Village of Brockport anticipate new changes and regulations to be put in place regarding the legality of the drug.

According to the Democrat & Chronicle, Governor Cuomo flipped the narrative of his stance on medical marijuana late last year after previously being against it. He credited the change to a Department of Health study showing how the benefits of the plant outweigh the risks. Another one of the main basis of this change of heart could be the money marijuana  sales could bring in, especially in regards to its anticipated tax revenue. 

Brockport Mayor Margaret Blackman agreed legalization would bring a lot more changes. Some of those changes would be business opportunities to the village.

“It’s inevitable, it’s gonna happen,” Blackman said. “So we just need to be prepared.”

As reported by the Democrat and Chronicle, cannabis is expected to have more than one set of taxes applied to it and will be accompanied by its own office to help manage sales and usage. Though Cuomo is pushing for this change to happen this year, with all the things to be set in motion the switch may not happen until 2020. Amny.com reported the subject had already been left off the 2019-2020 budget, due to the blueprint not being ready by the April 1 deadline.

“This legislative session?” Cuomo said. “I don’t know. I think it was clear early on that the legislative leaders signaled that it was going to be [done] outside budget.”

 Cuomo hinted that he knew the subject would not be a walk in the park and that it would take some time to accomplish. According to amny.com, he “remains hopeful it will go through in the legislative session.”

Donald Whitney, an employee of the The 420 Emporium located on Brockport’s Main Street, was thrilled at the impending legalization buzz. 

“I mean in this kind of store it would bring in more customers,” Whitney said. “A lot of people here do it already so we might as well legalize it.” 

He also discussed the tax topic, comparing it to California, the state which is most known for the medicinal use. 

“It would make money on taxes for sure,” he said. “In California it’s like 20-30 percent taxed.” 

Though some believe that the legalization of marijuana carries a lot of high risks, Whitney disagrees.

“You would literally have to smoke 50 pounds an hour for anything to seriously happen to you,” Whitney said. “That is highly unlikely.”  

The authorization of marijuana would also impact the way law enforcement officers do their jobs. Chief of University Police Daniel Vasile did not know much about the new upcoming rules and regulations, but said Brockport’s campus would remain smoke free. 

“The potential legalization of marijuana is a complicated issue currently being debated by the New York State Legislature and the Governor,” Vasile said. “It’s premature for me to comment on [any] questions as specific details and information around any potential legislation are unknown at this time.”

On the other hand, Mayor Blackman said while marijuana would be legal, it would not be legal to just smoke freely in the street and individuals would only be permitted to have a certain amount on them. The exact amount has yet to be decided.

“The problem comes when people drive under the influence,” Blackman said. “You can’t test the marijuana with a breathalyzer.” 

She spoke about the governor’s plans to instill about 600 dispensaries in the state.

“We are a college town so you better believe we would have a dispensary here,” Blackman said. “But would we want it on Main Street like any other business?”

Whether or not the village wants it, they would not have much control. According to the mayor, if a person wanted to rent a vacant building on Main Street and turn it into a dispensary, the village would have minimal control over the decision. 

“The village can control where it goes and the hours of operations,” Blackman said. “We don’t have much control over anything else.”

Graduate student and criminal justice major Christal Dewberry agreed with both Blackman and Vasile, citing that since the college is a state run facility it is likely it will operate under similar laws. 

“Since it is a public institution, Brockport has to follow the NYS rules,” Dewberry said. “Weed would be held at the same standard as cigarettes and hookah. Still a smoke free campus at the end of the day.”

Whether we like it or not, the legalization of cannabis in New York State is just around the corner. The challenge Brockport now faces is how to adapt to the new changes.