By Katrina Bown
Since the legalization of marijuana in New York state, many small towns and villages have been struggling to adapt to the new addition of Cannabis dispensaries. The Village of Brockport is one of the areas learning to adapt to these changes.
The Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) was signed into law on March 31, 2021 legalizing legal adult-use cannabis in New York State. The legislation created a new Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) governed by a Cannabis Control Board to regulate adult-use, medical, and hemp cannabis. The Office of Cannabis Management will issue licenses and develop regulations outlining how and when business can participate in the new industry-which means the placement of dispensaries around the New York area.
Many people have strong feelings about a dispensary opening up around college areas and SUNY Brockport sophomore Michael Lincoln agreed on the idea that dispensaries should be placed in the Brockport area.
“I believe it will be great for the economy. I looked it up and I saw that adding dispensaries is going to add a couple million dollars to the economy,” Lincoln says. “ Plus, I don’t think weed is all that bad. I see that it’s used medically to help people. Usually cannabis is natural and you can take it many different ways such as cooking it and smoking it. Either way I don’t see a problem with dispensaries being placed in the area.”
SUNY Brockport sophomore Taylor Bessy disagrees, thinking of the negative effects of the addition of dispensaries in the Brockport area.
“My father is a police officer so I grew up knowing a little bit about laws and had strict rules growing up. I believe that since this is a college area I feel like the dispensaries are going to encourage more underage smoking. However, I do feel it will be a good business economically for the Village.”
From the 10/25/21 Village Board Meeting Minutes, it incorporated a workshop discussion on the topic of cannabis.
“The board prepared for the public hearing to be held on November 1st at 7 pm at the Oliver Middle School, to hear all interested persons in consideration of a local law in accordance with NYS Cannabis Law § 131 opting out of allowing retail cannabis dispensaries and on-site cannabis consumption establishments within the Village of Brockport. Discussion included possible impacts on law enforcement and code enforcement. Chief Cuzzopoli, Officer Vadas, and Code Enforcement Officer Fabry gave their expertise and perspectives to the board. The board also reviewed and edited the slide presentation that will proceed to public comment at the hearing next week.” To find more on that meeting information click here.
What the Mayor of Brockport had to Say
Margaret B. Blackman is the Mayor of the Village of Brockport and in the past was a professor of anthropology for SUNY Brockport. Blackman shares her own opinion of the idea of cannabis dispensaries opening up in the Brockport area, as well as sharing knowledge on discussions between the people of Brockport and the Village board.
“You get a pretty good sample of public opinion, from the people that came to the public hearing and whose comments are all recorded in the minutes- most of them were positive in the sense that they were in favor of dispensaries,” says Blackman.
Blackman then speaks on the fact that some people were not sure on whether to agree with the dispensaries since they didn’t know much about the regulations needed for it yet, so they wanted to opt out for now because you can always opt in again later.
“We just don’t know enough about it yet. We’d be safer opting out of this, but there’s certainly plenty of websites and so forth out there that speak about the downside of marijuana, I mean you you hear from some people it’s a gateway drug which is really not,” says Blackman saying what others were saying.
Blackman also made a statement about another group of people not in favor of opening dispensaries in the area.
“We had the police code enforcement come to our October Workshop just to talk about their concerns and you can imagine that the police were not we’re not particularly favorable,” says Blackman.
Blackman continues about how the stigma of marijuana is affecting people’s decisions.
“ It’s interesting that there is still such a stigma about marijuana still. Because it has been illegal and it is a drug, that’s why the stigma still exists. The Village Board attended a virtual webinar on lessons from Hamilton Ontario Canada where marijuana is legal for 3 years, and one of the people on that webinar was the head of the Chamber of Commerce,” says Blackman, “ And you don’t usually think about thinking about Chambers of Commerce in the US. That’s not exactly the group that you would think would be promoting marijuana use. They were very focused on the stigma and trying to get rid of the stigma because they talk about a particular case from Hamilton Ontario which is a Rust Belt City. They were looking at it in economic terms, on how we’ve lost a lot of Industry and a lot of manufacturing. With Cannabis dispensaries, this is going to be a several billion dollar industry, we need to embrace that,” Blackman says.
Blackman then mentions how there is one person who thinks “the sky is falling”. And to help with this the Village board is now going to speak on the topic of strategies to handle opting in.
“We’re devoting our workshop on Money night to talking about strategies for what if we decide to stay opted in and strategies for what we do if we opt out… December 6th we’re going to vote ,” says Blackman.
Blackman has been taking into consideration what other SUNY school towns have considered for the cannabis dispensary situation. So far most of these cities and towns such as Buffalo, Albany, Binghamton, Fredonia and ect, are all places with SUNY institutions that are opting in.
The biggest concern at the moment is the parents fear sending their children to these areas where there are dispensaries set up in the community. They seem to have a fear that their child will consume cannabis illegally. However, Mayor Blackman and many others knew that students already were able to use these drugs illegally before any dispensaries were mentioned. With the dispensaries however, it will be ensured that safety and legal regulation will be regulated for the safety of the student and the surrounding community.
“This is going to be the most regulated industry, the rules, the licensing, and everybody has said, they look like every other store. Once you walk in your ID will be checked. I’m not worried about the regulations that will be put in place to make sure there are legal purchases made,” said Blackman.
Buying from the dispensaries will ensure the community that the Cannabis they are purchasing is safe and will not include any extra chemicals that can harm someone. It’s better to purchase safer than having the people of Brockport not knowing what is in the marajiana when they buy from other people with no license they don’t trust as much.
Many people in the Village Board and community seem to be in favor of the topic of adding Cannabis dispensaries to the Brockport area due to the many positive sides it can give to the economy and people.
The final vote to opt-in or out will be made December 6th.