Just Say K N O W . . .
On March 31 our state legislature passed New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). Each municipality has until December 31, 2021, to pass a local law to “opt out” of allowing marijuana retail sales and/or smoking lounges within their community. If no action is taken, they will be “opted in” by default.
At Tuesday night’s meeting I asked our Cortlandt Town Board: “Do we have a plan? And are you planning to have open hearings to get the residents input regarding how the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) is enacted in our town?”
I was shocked to learn, seven months after the MRTA was signed, that their answer was “We have not decided yet on the public hearing, we may… we don’t have a definitive yes or no at this time.” Later I was told, “…we can schedule this perhaps sometime in November.”
Our Town Board has “kicked the MRTA can down the road” for seven months. I leave it to you to ask them why we needed to wait until November to begin talking about this issue. We need to focus on what we can do now…
The Town of Cortlandt must have public hearings immediately, bring our citizens up to speed, discuss honestly the ramifications of MRTA and draft legislation to “opt out” before the deadline so that we KNOW the particulars of what we are agreeing to and how our community is going to be affected by MRTA if/when we decide to “opt in.” My concern is that with only two board meetings left between now and December 31 we won’t have adequate time to hold public hearings, draft a law, hold more hearings and vote on the new law.
On Tuesday, when I voiced my concerns and urged the board to “opt out” for now so that we can learn from the experience of other towns, Councilman Creighton said “we want to be a bit more thoughtful than “JUST SAY NO.” Others on the board agreed. I feel that they miss the point…
While the prospect of new tax revenue may be enticing, we will have no way to predict any future financial gain (or loss) until we see the entire regulatory picture. These regulations have yet to be written. We cannot afford to work like Congress and adopt a law before we know what is in it. (If a municipality “opts out” before December 31, they get no tax revenue. They can “opt back in” any time by repealing the local “opt-out” law. This is our one and only chance to Opt Out.)
We need to KNOW and understand the pros and cons of “opt in.” The Board needs to KNOW what we as citizens want for our town. We need to KNOW the unforeseen consequences of MRTA that municipalities that “opt in” experience. THEN, with this KNOWLEDGE we can consider if “opt in” is right for Cortlandt.
As of today, NO HEARING has been scheduled.
We NEED TO just say KNOW. Tell our Town Board to OPT OUT for now.
Lifetime resident of Verplanck
Candidate for Cortlandt Town Board