A lot of questions on pot pharmacies that also must be answered

The East Hampton Town Board had its first substantive discussion of adult cannabis since Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed a law legalizing recreational use in March.

Cities, towns, and villages are now allowed to enact local laws and regulations that regulate the time, location, and type of adult retail spending and on-site consumption licenses. They can oppose either, but if they do, voters within the community can challenge their decision by calling a referendum.

Local law to exclude retail spending and / or on-site consumption must be passed no later than December 31st. If this does not happen by this date, a municipality can no longer resign in the future and can register again later.

In addition to state taxes, a 4 percent local excise tax is levied on the sale of cannabis products from a retail pharmacy. 25 percent of this tax goes to the district, the rest to the city or village in which the pharmacy is located.

State legislation creates an Office of Cannabis Management run by a Cannabis Control Board to oversee and enforce the law. The former will issue licenses and develop regulations detailing how and when companies can participate in the new industry.

It is important to hear from the public where such businesses should be located, said supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, but legalizing the personal use of cannabis is an important step, he said, comparing the illegal activities surrounding marijuana to those who are alcohol appeared during the ban from 1920 to 1933.

“One thing we can do,” said John Jilnicki, the city attorney, “is arrange the time and place of these deals.” The city, he said, can decide on the zoning that allows a pharmacy or a place of consumption on site and hours of operation. The city could also allow pharmacies, but not consumption on site.

Like bars or taverns, on-site pharmacies or places of consumption shouldn’t be allowed near churches, schools or public parks, Councilor David Lys suggested.

Can the city regulate cannabis production? asked Mr Van Scoyoc.

“From what I see,” said Mr. Jilnicki, “we don’t seem authorized to regulate production.”

The guard said his concern related to agriculture. “While I understand that producing this product locally for local sale or consumption is likely good for the local economy,” he said, “I would not want all arable land to be converted from food production into something that is more of a recreational resource is.” Councilor Sylvia Overby expressed the same concern, but Mr Van Scoyoc wondered if cannabis growing could mainly take place in “more controlled environments” such as indoors.

Could the number of pharmacies per hamlet be controlled? asked Mrs. Overby. Nobody knew for sure.

The board members should bring the topic to the citizens’ councils to which they are assigned, suggested City Councilor Käthee Burke-Gonzalez.

“We have a general view of the areas that we still need to review,” said Van Scoyoc. He reiterated the importance of public engagement, but “at some point we will have to make a decision”.