At a public hearing at the Crawford Town Board meeting on July 15, members of the public were divided in their viewpoints on whether the town should opt-out of allowing cannabis dispensaries and on-site cannabis consumption establishments.
David Empie of Pine Bush was against allowing both the dispensaries as well as the on-site consumption establishments, as he feels they would lead to an uptick in drug-induced car accidents.
“People die every day from accidents from cars caused by drug-induced agents including marijuana,” he said.
Rachel Bruce, a resident of the Town of Woodbury, voiced her approval of opting-in to both dispensaries and on-site establishments on behalf of the Young Democrats of Orange County. She noted that even if the Town of Crawford opts out, residents will continue to use, purchase and grow marijuana as it is now legal to do so in New York State.
Bruce added that other states that have legalized marijuana such as Washington, Massachusetts and Colorado have seen an increase in jobs. She added that traffic fatalities in those states have seen no impact due to the legalization.
Furthermore Bruce pointed out that marijuana is not addictive, however alcohol is and there are bars all over the place.
“The benefits certainly outweigh the risks here,” Bruce told the board.
Jessica Gocke, a local realtor who shows houses in Pine Bush, is for opting-in to both dispensaries and on-site consumption establishments. She noted that throughout history marijuana has served as an integral part of many countries’ economies. Between 1000 B.C. and 1800 A.D., marijuana was an instrumental part of the Chinese economy before migrating to western Europe and all over the world. During colonial times in the United States, hemp was one of the most prolific raw materials in the fabrication of oil, fabric, paper, medicine and food. Farmers were fined if they did not grow at least 10 acres of hemp.
Like Bruce, Gocke pointed out that residents will still use, purchase and grow marijuana regardless of Crawford’s decision on dispensaries and on-site consumption establishments. She added that both dispensaries and on-site consumption establishments would bolster the economy, giving the town additional sources of sales tax revenue.
“The Town of Crawford should not opt out of cannabis,” Gocke said. “It accomplishes nothing other than the loss of substantial revenue. As the speaker before me mentioned, people are still gonna grow it, they’re still gonna smoke it.”
Gocke also believes that the dispensaries and on-site consumption establishments would attract people to Crawford.
“This has the exact same benefits and the exact same draw as the UFO museum,” she said.
Pietro Geraci, a Town of Newburgh resident and chairman of the Orange County Libertarian Party, pointed out that if dispensaries and on-site consumption establishments are outlawed in Crawford then people will drive to other municipalities to obtain it. This would increase the number of people driving while high, thus increasing traffic accidents.
“I please urge you to vote no on opting out,” Geraci told the board.
With Deputy Supervisor Dan Flanick absent, the town board decided to hold off on making a decision on the matter. They also held off on making a decision, as they are seeking more guidelines from the state cannabis board.
Crawford Town Supervisor Charles Carnes has mixed feelings regarding cannabis dispensaries and on-site cannabis consumption establishments.
“Speaking for myself, I’m against on-premise consumption because we don’t know what’s out there,” he said. “As far as on-site sales I can live with it. I don’t know how I feel about it but on-site consumption until all the rules come out and stuff I’m against that.”
The town board will hold a special meeting on July 27, 7 p.m. at Crawford Town Hall where they will continue this public hearing. It will be held at the Crawford Senior and Community Center, 115 State Route 302, Pine Bush for the purpose of potentially taking action on one of the local laws.