Schoharie urged to just say yes


By Patsy Nicosia

Just say yes to marijuana dispensaries or risk missing that train—again—forever.
That’s the case Floyd Guernsey made in a Village of Schoharie listening session on the opt-out or stay-in-forever law municipalities need to decide on by December 31.
Mr. Guernsey is a village businessman and Town of Schoharie councilman who said Tuesday he planned to make the same argument to the town Wednesday.
“This is not for the weak of heart,” Mr. Guernsey said, predicting that in the end, dispensaries and “lounges” will be few and far between because of the expense involved.
“You’d be lucky to get one,” he said.
Because he is—or was—interested in becoming a “one,” Mr. Guernsey spent the day researching state law and requirements for dispensaries.
What he found, he said, is that there’s a $210,000 application fee, $200,000 of which will be refunded if the state’s Office of Cannabis Management doesn’t approve an application.
That application fee is good for two years, he said; after that, it’s another $210,000.
The OCM will also require a business plan, something Mr. Guernsey estimates would cost $30,000.
All of that, he said, is going to mean a facility and an investment worth a half-million dollars.
He said he was looking to apply, “but there’s no way in hell I could come up with a half-million dollars.
“It’s not going to be just some Joe Schmoe. You want to be on the front line if someone’s willing or you’re going to get bypassed and left in the dust.”
Municipalities have until the end of December to take no action and allow dispensaries to come in or opt-out of the state law and not allow them.
They can change their mind and opt back in, but if they don’t opt out, they’re stuck in.
“My thought is to do nothing,” and so allow them, Mayor Larry Caza said--though he’s heard from others in the village who disagree and so, he said. It might make sense to opt out.
Residents who disagree with opting out could collect enough signatures for a vote—or the village could schedule its own, he said.
Ben Griffiths and Jennifer Barnett, both in the audience, agreed with Mr. Guernsey’s take on the law.
Mr. Griffiths said he’s opposed to the use of cannabis, but after listening to Mr. Guernsey, he thinks the village should opt in.
“Our businesses are still hurting since the flood,” he said. “We’ve got to stop saying no. Look at downtown.”
Ms. Barnett, who owns Unicorn Alchemy on Main Street, said a dispensary would draw people downtown and benefit existing businesses and she and suggested trustees visit places like Provincetown or Wellfleet, Massachusetts where they’re already legal.
There’s nothing sketchy about them, she said.
Mayor Caza said he’s also received a letter from the owners of Market on Main, who’ve launched an online petition supporting dispensaries.
Mayor Caza and trustees will take the next couple of weeks to consider Tuesday’s comments.
There’s still time to decide whether to hold a public hearing in December, a step required before voting to opt out.