LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Times are changing, and consumption of marijuana is legal on all terms in New York. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find a place to buy it wherever you go. This week, the village of Lake George decided to remove themselves from the list.
The village board voted on Monday to opt out of allowing cannabis to be sold within its borders, passing legislation that prohibits the opening of both marijuana dispensaries and cafes, or other businesses where it can be consumed. That does not change the legality of consuming marijuana in the village.
The vote on Monday was unanimous. The decision followed a public hearing last month, to get Lake George public input on whether a shop on Canada Street or elsewhere would be a welcome addition to the tourist community. The opt out vote comes in advance of a state deadline of Dec. 31 for municipalities to make the decision.
“It was very well attended,” said Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais on Wednesday. “Everyone at the hearing spoke against it.”
Blais said four main reasons drove the decision to opt out. Many people at September’s public meeting were local business owners, who said that legalized marijuana consumption had led to instances of property damage by patrons.
Another concern was that marijuana in Lake George could call for a bigger local police presence. Neither the village or the town of Lake George has its own police department. Both rely on enforcement from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
The third reason against a dispensary, Blais said, came down to image. Lake George sees tens of thousands of visitors a year, especially in the summer, as a thriving tourist destination.
“The image of dispensaries and the long lines was a concern to a lot of people,” he said.
Lastly, the village has heard many complaints about smoking. Currently, smoking is prohibited on all property owned by the village.
Blais said that interest prior to the meeting was fairly low. While a cannabis dispensary or cafe would have been a new revenue source, it wouldn’t be a life-changing one.
“We do very well for ourselves here in the village.”
Blais did hear from one attorney, representing a client who was interested in opening a facility in the village.
Meanwhile, the tone is different to the south. The city of Glens Falls has been vocally in favor of opening a dispensary or cafe, or of having one as a neighbor in the town of Queensbury. 42 Degrees smoke shop owner Robin Barkhagen already has plans for one drawn up.
While sale will be prohibited in the village, people will be allowed to smoke marijuana wherever they could smoke a cigarette. Blais took the concerns of everyone looking to bar sale to heart, but doesn’t see those concerns as cause to think marijuana coming in from nearby will cause any significant harm.
“They’re making their own decision,” he said. “The rules in the village are going to be the same as they are for smoking. We can handle whatever’s coming down the road, but we can also opt in at a later date when the state gets their act together.”