Different take on marijuana at Spencer Village Board – ithaca.com

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Ashli Mikeska of CASA Trinity in Owego presented to the Spencer Village Board on Oct. 4 a different take on the marijuana decision the board must make, to allow or not, retail dispensaries and/or cannabis “lounges.” 

CASA Trinity is an organization that promotes substance abuse prevention. The power point she presented to the board began with the question—if the board allows marijuana dispensaries or lounges into the village, will this make the village a healthier, more financially stable  community?

Mikeska addressed the board on issues that the Board needs to consider before making its final decision to opt out or opt-in to allow marijuana a retail business or a cannabis lounge. She brought with her many statistics that most people probably had not seen before. The New York State cannabis law was adopted on March 31, 2021, and only recently was the cannabis control board appointed. That board will have more input into regulations for cannabis than any local municipality. 

Because it was just recently appointed most people in government do not anticipate a report on regulations from this control board until 2023 at the earliest. So, if a municipality opts in, it will have no idea what it is opting into, regulation wise. Mikeska reminded the board that they can always opt in later at anytime with no penalty.  However, if they opt in by Dec. 31 of this year, they are stuck there fully in and cannot opt out in the future. 

Mikeska raised some issues not talked about much in Spencer—such as Odor Control. Some people find the odor of cannabis unpleasant, especially if several businesses are located close to one another. She compared regulations in some other states that have had cannabis legal sales for some time.  In Colorado for instance the law allows Odor Control by each municipality by keeping retail stores spread out. It is the code enforcement officer who has to oversee retail outlets and enforce whatever regulations are adopted. Apparently, density of marijuana outlets is important. Also, she showed a map of Denver that correlates a much higher number of retail marijuana outlets with low income and/or minority neighborhoods. More affluent neighborhoods had few cannabis outlets.

An interesting fact Mikeska shared is that the MRTA law (marihuana regulation and taxation act) allows cannabis to be smoked in public anywhere that tobacco is allowed to be smoked or vaped. A somewhat disturbing fact noted by those in the audience is that the maximum penalty for not observing this MRTA regulation is only a $25 fine and/or 20 hours of community service. Jim Myers told the board that he thought that was not much of a deterrent. Among the charts and graphs she showed was one noting that traffic accidents went up 200% due to consumption and then driving. Another concern is potency of whatever is sold. 20 years ago the potency of marijuana was at 3 to 5%; now the starting level seen is about 20%. Mikeska said it’s much higher for edibles – up to 90%. An alarming statistic she shared is that one cannabis gummy bear is considered 10 doses  or said differently—one serving is just 1/10 of a gummy:  users are expected to cut that gummy bear into 10 pieces and eat just one. In states where cannabis has been legal for a while, these gummy bears have  led to an increase in poisonings. Young children see gummy bears, eat several and have to be rushed to an emergency room. 

What will marketing for these new businesses look like? about the only thing we know now is that billboards will not be allowed. Mikeska stated firmly that Casa Trinity’s goal is to keep marijuana out of the hands of youth or underage kids, even if it is legal in the state. Some teens have already indicated that once it becomes legal they will try it. She then proceeded to cite ways in which cannabis has an impact on the brain—causing impaired judgement and mental health issues. Apparently one out of six  people who use cannabis do get addicted, despite the popular belief that marijuana is not addicting. She then showed a chart of states indicating the proportion of municipalities that have opted out of retail cannabis sales. Surprisingly, in California, 80% of local governments opted out. 

Will the village of Spencer get much  tax revenue from cannabis sales? The answer is basically no. If Spencer sells one million dollars worth of marijuana it will only get for the village $30,000.  Not a great return for the village. There were few questions when Mikeska finished. The board thanked her for coming and sharing this information. 

Source: https://www.ithaca.com/news/regional_news/different-take-on-marijuana-at-spencer-village-board/article_4e01dce8-2c3a-11ec-acbb-3f5dcaec7202.html

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