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Cannabis bars denied by Orchard Park Town Board; retail cannabis stores allowed

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The two-member board voted yes to ‘opting out’ of the state’s on-site cannabis consumption law. Municipalities are required to make a decision by December 31.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Orchard Park Town Board has opted out of having on-site cannabis consumption locations, or so-called cannabis bars, within municipal limits.

The two-member board, which includes Councilmembers Conor Flynn and incoming Supervisor Gene Majchrzak, met Wednesday to hold a public hearing and vote on the local measure.

During the hearing, all six speakers said they were opposed to the measure and urged that the board vote yes, to “opt-out.” However, on one occasion, Councilmember Majchrzak made a point to clarify the odd wording of the state’s law, as the first speaker said she wanted the board to vote no.

“Why not learn from other community’s mistakes before we go down that road, if they even have any? The good things, the bad things, whatever it takes,” one resident said.

The way the law is written a town can only vote to “opt-out,” or by default be entered into the program.

Councilmember Flynn said his decision came down to the fact that a report from the New York State Health Department failed to identify any consistent way of detecting cannabis in someone’s system as a breathalyzer can with alcohol.

Councilmember Majchrzak said he based his vote on conversations he had with neighbors during the campaign season. The majority of people he said were against on-site cannabis locations.

Both council members said they would support future discussions, with Majchrzak suggesting that a referendum vote could be held in November, to allow all Orchard Park residents to decide. Municipalities are required to submit their decision by December 31 or be locked out from opting out in the future.

“The Town or Orchard Park will be staying in the retail sales program to evaluate what zoning options the town should pursue, to make sure these types of businesses fit into the community that surrounds them,” Councilmember Flynn said after the meeting.

Orchard Park will allow for retail cannabis stores to open, as Wednesday’s local law did not address such an option. The way the state’s law is written, if a town doesn’t pass a law opting out of cannabis retail like the town did with cannabis bars, they by default are entered into the program.

Most recently Hamburg approved both on-site consumption and retail sales in a 3-2 vote but said during their Monday, December 13 meeting that they may halt on-site consumption until proper zoning laws could be put in place.

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