Town of Gates votes to opt out of legal recreational marijuana sales

Marijuana

GATES, N.Y. (WROC) — The Town of Gates voted Wednesday night to opt out of allowing legal recreational marijuana sales, according to Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act legalized adult use recreational marijuana in New York State when it was signed into law in March.

Under the law, municipalities may initially choose to opt-out of allowing businesses that sell cannabis, including for on-site consumption of cannabis products.

Statewide, any local laws opting out of retail cannabis sale and consumption must be adopted by January 1, 2022.

VanBrederode told News 8 in 2019 that he was concerned about marijuana legalization.

“A lot of times people have more significant underlying problems that lead to them smoking marijuana every day or using any other drugs,” VanBrederode said.

When it comes to opting out of allowing legal marijuana sales in Gates, Town Supervisor Cosmo Giunta says it’s all about doing what’s right for the town at the moment. “It’s still new. There’s a lot of unknowns.”

He says— Albany still has not come down with a lot of concrete regulations. “Rather than just diving into it…we decided to opt-out,” he says.

Tax revenue, he says, is not a big priority right now. “Our concerns are for the safety and well-being of our community and residents.”

For the Police Chief, he says since recreational marijuana became legalized, he’s never seen more people behind the wheel smoking. He says there have already been serious traffic accidents related to pot.

“It’s almost like every traffic light, when you’re sitting at a red light, you can smell marijuana…” says Vanbrederode.

Over the weekend, he says a fatal accident on Chestnut Street was linked to pot. Pulling someone over and proving someone is high, though— tough. 

“What testing do we have available, what is the bar, what is the standard for showing intoxication?” he says, adding, “There’s no standard that’s been set on how much THC has to be in someone’s blood before we consider them intoxicated.”

Giunta saying he’s going to continue to see how this plays out— ‘opting in’ is not off the table. “Could it be revisited next year? Absolutely,” he says.

By most current estimates, retail recreational marijuana won’t be available in New York until 2023, but the state’s Cannabis Control Board voted last month to allow for people to grow pot in their homes for medical purposes.

A person would be able to grow up to six plants at a time. There would also be a 12-plant limit for each household. Only certified patients or their caregivers would be allowed to grow the plant.

These regulations will now be subject to a 60-day period for public comment.

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