Don’t shut out the public

Auburn Citizen

Whether you think legal marijuana is good, bad or indifferent, you should have a say in whether or not pot stores are going to be allowed to open where you live.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act signed into law this spring legalized the possession and use of marijuana. And with retail sales coming down the road, municipalities have the option of banning dispensaries and sites where the drug may be used by passing a local law prohibiting those activities.

We believe the town of Brutus is skipping an important step in that process with the town board deciding to opt out of marijuana sales without holding a forum to hear from residents. Municipalities that opt out can reverse that decision in the future, but public discourse on an issue like this is the absolute least a government can do in this situation.

The village of Weedsport, on the other hand, discussed the issue at a recent board workshop meeting and plans to solicit more input from residents before making a decision.

The Auburn City Council had its first public discussion on the matter in April as a means of both explaining the law to the public and getting the conversation going about how people are feeling about it. One presenter talked about the economic and environmental benefits of marijuana and said that the elimination of criminal charges for simple possession was a step in the right direction, considering that people with past convictions then sometimes found it difficult to find a job. Another speaker said that marijuana use among area teenagers is already above the national average and that people driving under the influence should also be a community concern.

That type of engagement is exactly what every municipality should be striving for when considering the pros and cons of marijuana in their communities, and we hope other towns and villages in the county follow that example. Marijuana is a controversial topic, and government leaders should check the pulse of their communities before moving toward one decision or another.

By -