Saranac Lake plans cannabis discussion next month

SARANAC LAKE — The village board will discuss whether it will allow cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption licenses at its next scheduled meeting on Nov. 8 at 5:30 p.m.

When the state legalized recreational, adult-use cannabis earlier this year, it gave local governments the option of opting out of allowing dispensaries and issuing on-site consumption licenses before the end of the year. Some local towns, such as Lake Placid and Keene, are planning to opt out.

Saranac Lake has not moved to do so.

“By not doing anything, we are opting in at this point,” Trustee Melinda Little said.

But that could still change, she said, though no board member has voiced a desire to opt out. Mayor Clyde Rabideau has previously said he believes it wouldn’t be safe or economical for Saranac Lake to ban dispensaries.

A village that opts out of allowing cannabis businesses would not be able to collect tax money raised by the sale of cannabis.

Little said other board members are essentially “waiting” until they know more.

“I don’t think the village has made a decision one way or the other,” Little said later. “We haven’t had a formal conversation about it.”

According to the state’s cannabis law, if a town wants to opt out, the board has to pass a resolution adopting a local opt-out law by Dec. 31. That local law is subject to a permissive referendum, meaning town residents have 45 days from the adoption of the law to gather enough signatures to force a public vote. If no petition is filed within 45 days, it automatically becomes law.

At Trustee Tom Catillaz’s request, Little agreed the board should hold a public discussion of the cannabis law to inform the public, and themselves, on what opting in will mean.

Little was acting as the village’s deputy mayor at Monday’s meeting, as Rabideau was not present.

“The law is very vague,” Village Manager John Sweeney said. “I know that local communities are struggling to understand, ‘What are we doing?'”

The board is asking village police Chief Leigh Wenske and village Attorney Paul Van Cott to attend this meeting to discuss the law with the board.

The public can weigh in on the subject at the next meeting in the public session at the start of the meeting on Nov. 8. The board will then discuss its plans toward the end of that meeting.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today