Saturday, December 9, 2023

City council to get first look at draft cannabis opt-out law

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – Watertown officials will get their first look next week at a local law to opt out of allowing cannabis dispensaries in the city.

A draft of the law is on the agenda for the city council’s meeting on Tuesday.

The city council talked about opting out at a meeting last month.

The draft law reads, in part, “It is the intent of this local law to opt the City of Watertown out of hosting retail cannabis dispensaries and on-site cannabis consumption establishments within its boundaries.”

The deadline for opting out is December 31 and communities that do can change their minds later.

There needs to be a public hearing before the council can vote on the law. That hearing could be as early as the council’s July 19 meeting.

The local law is subject to what’s called a permissive referendum. That means if enough city residents sign a petition, the issue would be put to a vote.

Opting out briefly became a campaign issue in the primary election for city council.

Recreational use of marijuana was legalized in New York on March 31. Rules regulating retail sales probably won’t be final until sometime next year.

Opting out means a loss of revenue for the city. Municipalities would receive 3 percent of all cannabis sales within their limits. The state would receive 5 percent and the county 1 percent.

Also on the agenda is a resolution to provide a second police officer to act as a school resource officer for the Watertown City School District.

There is already an SRO that works in the high school. The second one would serve the Case Middle and Wiley Intermediate schools.

The district pays the city for the time the officers spending working in the schools, which city officials say amounts to about 75 percent of the cost.

The money for the second SRO is already in the city and district budgets.

Copyright 2021 WWNY. All rights reserved.

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