100 signatures reached
To: Dobbs Ferry Mayor Vincent Rossillo and the Board of Trustees
Opt-in to Cannabis Dispensaries in Dobbs Ferry
With the passing of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) this spring, New York became the 17th state to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana. Now, it is up to individual municipalities to either do nothing (and thereby opt-in) or choose to opt-out of allowing dispensaries and/or public consumption facilities to operate within their bounds, which is a decision that must be made by December 31st. Here in Dobbs Ferry, Mayor Vincent Rossillo and the Board of Trustees will be making this decision during a public forum on Tuesday, November 23rd.
We believe that opting in is not only common sense but good economic sense, as well. Dispensaries are among the most regulated businesses out there and will bring people to the village who will also patronize our other businesses. In addition, MRTA calls for a 13% tax on retail cannabis sales — with 9% going to the state and 4% to local governments where the sales take place. That revenue can only be a boon for a village that already struggles to balance the budget each year, despite the fact that residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the country.
Beyond exhorting the Board of Trustees to opt-in to allow dispensaries, if not public consumption facilities, in Dobbs Ferry, we also encourage them to adopt reasonable “time, place, and manner” zoning restrictions. These should, at the very least, be no more restrictive than any such regulations that apply to liquor stores and bars. In particular, they should not be excluded from downtown locations, especially given our village goals to increase the vitality of our downtown, make our streets more walkable, make evidence-based decisions when it comes to public health, attract new businesses, and encourage cooperation and natural synergies among all our businesses.
It is not a matter of whether such stores would attract “unsavory types” from neighboring areas. Cannabis is regularly used by the upstanding residents of Dobbs Ferry, and is a much safer substance than alcohol. There are at least five liquor stores and a beer store already in Dobbs Ferry, not to mention the countless bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. Why should we not have access to cannabis, as well? It verges on hypocritical to allow the sale of alcohol but not cannabis.
Residents of Dobbs Ferry already have access to cannabis via a black market that is unregulated, unsafe, and untaxed. Opting-in to allow dispensaries to open here would help ensure that our community has access to safe and tested products, and that some of the proceeds would go toward benefitting our community. It remains to be decided how such a tax would be used, but some initial ideas are to support the Youth Services Council, the ambulance corps, or to apply those funds toward burying the power lines downtown and helping to beautify our village while protecting it from power outages.
New York State has already legalized the sale and public consumption of cannabis, so any arguments about that are no longer relevant. No matter what Dobbs Ferry decides, residents over the age of 21 will still have the right to possess, consume, and grow cannabis. The only question on the table is whether our village wants the substantial economic benefits associated with the new law, as well as a consistent philosophy that allows for the sale of all substances that are currently legal in the state of New York. We strongly hope the Board votes to continue helping Dobbs Ferry thrive and move into the future.
Why is this important?
There is a vocal minority speaking out against opting-in. We believe the majority of Dobbs Ferry's 11,000 residents and business owners support opting-in or don't have much of an opinion either way. It's critical that we make our voices heard loud and strong by Mayor Rossillo and the rest of the trustees leading up to the final community forum and vote on November 23rd.