Clarendon hears pros and cons of allowing marijuana dispensaries to set up shop

Photos by Tom Rivers: Nyla Gaylard of Clarendon urges the Clarendon Town Board to opt in and allow marijuana dispensaries to be located in town. She is speaking during a public hearing on Tuesday. Town Board members in the photo include Town Supervisor Richard Moy, left, and Allen Robinson.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 July 2021 at 3:44 pm

CLARENDON – The Town Board heard from residents on Tuesday in support of allowing marijuana dispensaries to set up shop in Clarendon and those opposed to it.

The state is giving municipalities until Dec. 31 to decide whether they will opt out of allowing marijuana dispensaries, where people could purchase adult-use cannabis products. The municipalities also need to decide by the end of the year if they will opt out of allowing onsite consumption at businesses such as a smoking lounge.

Nyla Gaylord urged the Clarendon Town Board to allow the dispensaries. There are already sites in Rochester where people can purchase marijuana legally for medical reasons, she said, and those sites tend to be nondescript or “innocuous” buildings with little impact on the community.

Clarendon Town Supervisor Richard Moy said similar-size towns as Clarendon in other states have collected $10,000 or more per month in revenue.

“We can’t escape the reality that marijuana is here to stay,” Gaylord said during a public hearing. “I would much rather see marijuana sold legally rather illegally by someone with an array of other drugs.”

The towns and villages can’t overstep the state and ban recreational use of marijuana. But the towns and villages can prohibit dispensaries and smoking lounges.

That disappointed residents Dick Conklin and Richard Williams, who don’t want to see marijuana use encouraged through legalization. They said they worry drivers will be “stoned” and put others at risk on the road.

“We’re talking about people who use it to get loaded,” Conklin said.

Richard Moy, the Clarendon town supervisor, said he expects other nearby towns and villages will allow the dispensaries. If it’s not available in Clarendon, Moy said he expects local residents will go to the dispensaries nearby and then use the marijuana in Clarendon.

“They could buy it in Brockport or Albion and bring it back here, but those towns get the revenue,” Moy said.

If the municipal board for a village or town decides to opt out, residents could still push a permissive referendum, with the matter going on the ballot.

Municipalities could also decide to opt out, and later decide to “opt in” and allow the dispensaries and lounges.

Chris Caufield urged Clarendon to hold off on opting in, and see how other towns and villages handle dispensaries, and see the impact in tax revenue.

The state has approved a 13-percent excise tax on marijuana with a breakdown that includes 9 cents for each taxable sale to the state, 3 cents to the municipality that has the dispensary, and 1 cent to the county.

Municipalities that opt out wouldn’t be eligible for the 3-cent share of the 13-percent sales tax.

Gaylord and Moy both said Clarendon would likely receive significant tax revenue if there were marijuana dispensaries in town.

Moy said the Town of Basalt in Oregon receives between $10,000 and $15,000 per month in marijuana tax revenue, while Garibaldi in Oregon receives between $8,000 and $10,000 per month.

The municipalities could also adopt zoning and limit the locations for dispensaries, including establishing certain distances from schools, churches and other houses of worship.