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Cassadaga Village Board Opts Out On Marijuana Dispensaries

CASSADAGA — The Cassadaga Village Board has decided to opt out of allowing marijuana dispensaries and smoking dens within the village limits.

This matter has been a topic of discussion for the Cassadaga Village Board for the last couple months, as the Dec. 31 opt out date loomed over the board.

The board held a public hearing at their last meeting on Aug. 11, as part of the requirements for passing any local law. That public hearing had a handful of people in attendance, and even upon resolution of the two local laws, the Cassadaga Village Board members were not strongly swaying one way or the other.

The decision to opt out was not made because the board had staunch opposition to smoking dens or dispensaries, rather because the guidance in place by the state leaves a lot to be desired. “There’s no definitions yet from the state,” said Trustee Bill Astry. “We don’t know what they’re going to do. They don’t know what they’re going to do. It seems foolish to leave ourselves open. We can opt back in at some point, but we can’t opt out.”

This reasoning Astry presented for opting out is not uncommon among other municipalities, as a lot of places feel the cart has been put before the horse. In the roundtable discussion talking about dispensaries organized by State Sen. George Borrello last month, Borrello said the Dec. 31 deadline is strict, when the regulations aren’t all put in place. Because of this, Borrello advocated for pushing the deadline back.

“I think it’s unfair they have to opt out by the end of the year because the state has failed to enact parts of the law they said they would,” Borrello said. “And therefore, to keep that December 31 strict guideline for an opt out, to me, seems completely unfair. What are you opting in or out of? Nobody really knows. I think the state should extend that deadline and I’m hoping our new governor will do so.”

The members of the Cassadaga Village Board passed both opt out laws with full knowledge that opting out gives them the most options down the line. Despite opting out now, the board members appeared to be very open to revisiting the two laws in the future, once more state regulations and guidance are put in place.

“It sounds like the opt out option is the favorable option,” said Trustee Mark Wilson, “so that we have more future options.”

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