Tuesday was an exciting day for Town of Gorham residents like Annmarie St. George, who participated in a special election. Those who live within town limits cast their votes on whether they wanted to keep or overturn the town board’s decision to opt out of cannabis sales.
This, after state officials provided a tool for local municipalities to ‘opt out’ of the sale and consumption of marijuana when it was legalized.
Town of Gorham voters overturn board’s decision to opt out of marijuana sales (video)
When the town board voted to opt out, St. George started a petition.
“When a law is established in a community, you have that opportunity to bring it to a public vote,” St. George, who owns St. George’s Grocery & Deli with her husband. “But it’s not that simple. There’s a petition, and we did this in January so it’s been a long time coming, and trying to get people to sign this.”
Voters want the town to revisit the idea of stores selling cannabis
Now, she is celebrating her success. The results show the majority of voters want the town to revisit the idea of allowing stores to sell cannabis. The first step in that process was repealing the Board’s decision to potentially ban sales at businesses.
Businesses like St. George’s store, on Canandaigua Lake.
“One it’s a safe product that they can have available to them, they don’t have to worry about it being laced with anything, and not only that, but 3% of gross sales goes right into the community,” St. George said.
Town supervisor explains why board opted out
But the Town Board wasn’t sold on that. Supervisor Fred Lightfoote explains why.
“The majority of the town board didn’t feel that it was the proper thing at this time until there was more information available from different sources,” Lightfoote said. “If you opt out, the state does allow for you to opt in at a later time, but if you were to opt in, you can’t opt back out.”
State guidelines for selling will be challenging, businesses say
Now that they can sell the drug, working on staying within the state’s guidelines is not going to be easy, St. George says.
“The way our store is set up right now we wouldn’t be able to because we have beer on-premise,” she said. “You are not allowed to sell beer or alcohol and cannabis in the same building, so we would have to retrofit the building so that there’s a separate entrance. There’s a lot of money and things that are involved with having these types of businesses.”
Voters will have a chance to be heard again in Fall. The issue of whether or not to officially allow or ban marijuana sales in the town will be on the November ballot.
Rebecca is a veteran multimedia journalist serving as one of our core reporters in the Finger Lakes region. She is responsible for telling stories that matter to every day Upstate New Yorkers. Have a question or lead? Send it to email@example.com.