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Cairo officials vote to allow retail cannabis dispensaries

Oct 06, 2022 1:00 am

Andrea Macko is reporting for Porcupine Soup the Cairo Town Board on October 3, voted, three to two, to adopt a local law allowing retail cannabis dispensaries, reversing its previous decision to opt-out. The vote followed a standing-room-only public hearing where residents spoke to both sides of the issue. Potential tax revenue was cited as one of the benefits, while a current lack of state regulations governing the industry was voiced as a concern. “A big percentage of this town is going to Massachusetts to buy pot. Why are we losing the money here,” said one man. “Why should we lose the revenue?” Another resident said, “The state of New York has yet to give you the rules, regulations and everything that is involved,” noting that all of the new industry’s guidelines have not been set by state regulators. New York legalized recreational cannabis in March 2021 for adults aged 21 and older and gave municipalities until the end of 2021 to opt out of permitting dispensaries and/or on-site consumption lounges within their borders. Last December, the Cairo town board opted out of both. But last year's local election changed the make-up of the town board. This time Town Supervisor Jason Watts, and Councilpersons Michael Flaherty, and Debra Bogins voted to allow retail cannabis sales, while Councilpersons Mary-Jo Cords and Tim Powers voted a second time for prohibition. The decision this week was to allow dispensaries only, lounges are still not permitted. Consumption is not permitted at retail shops or dispensaries. Municipalities that opted out before the end of 2021 can reconsider at any time and rejoin the marijuana retail market. Under current law, once a town, village or city is in, they are in permanently. According to the New York State Association of Towns, “There will be a 13 percent tax on cannabis sales: 9 percent is an excise tax that will go to the state. There is also a 4 percent sales tax [of which] 25 percent of that will go to counties, and 75 percent will be distributed to cities, towns, and villages in proportion to the number of sales that take place within their jurisdiction.” Read the full story at porcupinesoup [dot] com.