DEAR PINE PLAINS SPECIAL EDITION: THE MARIJUANA LAWS
Dear Pine Plains,
I am writing this Special Edition in order to make very clear what is happening around these laws for Pine Plains. I will try and make this as succinct and clear as I can as well as brief, but it is a complex issue. To whit:
The Town Board has done some extensive research on the issue which I have shared with you over the last few weeks in my weekly newsletter. The newsletters are stored on our website if you’d like to review a past one. At our Town Board Workshop on August 15th, we had a deep discussion with attendees about the subject. This is up on YouTube at our Town of Pine Plains site. I offered to reach out to other towns with experience with this as to the impact in their communities. I also offer some ideas around this here for contemplation. I am sure there are many more ideas out there which I welcome. But here is what I have learned so far:
Gunnison, Colorado: more of a city, 6000 people spread way out; nearest mental health services are 90 minutes away. Their mayor told me that Colorado gives a license to anybody, hence they zoned an area for dispensaries where they can do business to keep them out of their downtown.
We can zone where a dispensary might be situated. We can regulate a lounge.
He told me that they use their sales tax money to create mental health services for their community, which they are in process of doing. They also tacked on an excise tax of 5 cents per sale and use that for the same thing.
We could add an excise tax here and use it for a) a ride service for impaired drivers; b) a mental health worker who might help our police with things like homeless autistic people who need help, or domestic problems or untreated drug addictions.
Jim told me also that he has learned some valuable things about the drug. That for the most part it makes people peaceful, unlike alcohol; that its demonization led to it being tried out then widely used in the first place, because the credibility of its detractors was called out; and if that led to opiate use, the gateway was false information, not marijuana itself. He said he smelled it far less on the streets and on young people than he did before it was legalized. He has no lounges. He feels that legalization helped enormously in lowering overdose rates, as illegal marijuana was often laced with other drugs. Dealers of illegal marijuana moved into the legal growing of the plant, reducing crime. Many of his observations were truly surprising to me.
There will be more information and thoughts on this as ideas come in. We have a big decision to make in the next few months. Please help us find the best one.
Stay vocal, local Pine Plains!