Watertown lawmakers opt out of allowing retail cannabis sales

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:55 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The Watertown city council voted Monday night for a local law that opts out of New York’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

The vote followed a marathon public hearing where dozens of people spoke in front of council.

Nineteen out of 26 speakers were in favor of opting in, but ultimately council went the other way.

Council members say they want more guidance from Albany.

If they opt in, that’s that, but by opting out now, they can still opt back in down the road.

Some residents said city council hadn’t given opting in a fair consideration.

Others said it would give people better access to medical marijuana.

“I’m asking, why wouldn’t you want to keep all of your city residents who do smoke marijuana, give them a safe place to buy marijuana, where it’s controlled?” Joanne Hughes said.

“You’re just giving up money,” S.G. Gates said. “The same amount of marijuana is going to be here whether it’s just outside our limits or right now. I think anybody who wants marijuana can get it. It’s not like it’s one of those things that’s hard to come by.”

Those who were in-favor of opting out cited the impacts it could have on children.

The public can now choose to petition council to hold a referendum.

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