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Lake Placid inches closer to March election on cannabis

LAKE PLACID — The village board of trustees last week passed two resolutions to place the village’s cannabis laws on a special election ballot. The election will take place on March 15, and these cannabis laws will be the only thing on the ballot.

Recreational marijuana was legalized statewide last March, and local governments had until Dec. 31, 2021 to pass local laws opting out of allowing dispensaries and/or on-site consumption licensing within their boundaries. Thirty-four percent of the state’s municipalities opted out of all cannabis sales last year, according to data from the state Office of Cannabis Management. The village board unanimously voted last December to opt out with the intention of placing its cannabis laws on the ballot to give voting village residents the final say.

“The voters will tell us what they want,” village Mayor Art Devlin said last week.

Village governments, unlike town governments, had the ability to opt out and then pass a resolution to place their cannabis laws on a ballot, which is the process the village board decided to begin last year.

Village Clerk Anita Estling said Tuesday that people with pandemic-related concerns, along with people who will be out of town for the election and people who have a disability, will be able to request absentee ballots for the election. Anyone who wants to apply for an absentee ballot should email their request to Estling at lpclerk@villageoflakeplacid.ny.gov.

The North Elba Town Hall reopened its doors this week, and Estling said that barring any future COVID-19 spikes in Lake Placid, town hall should be open for voting from noon to 9 p.m. on Election Day, March 15.

Village attorney Janet Bliss recommended last week that the village make a sample ballot available to residents who plan on voting in the special election. Estling said she expects the sample ballot to be available by early February. The village plans to release the sample ballot on the village Facebook page and website.

Since the two adopted local laws are opting out of cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption licensing, anyone who wants to vote in favor of opting back in to either option would vote against the adopted laws. A “no” vote to either law would translate to a “yes” to opting in. A “yes” vote to either law would be a vote to stay opted out. If the local laws are upheld, the village board could still vote to opt in to either option in the future.

The ballot was originally expected to include both the cannabis laws and one seat on the board of trustees, since trustee Jason Leon was elected to the North Elba Town Council this past November. Now, Leon plans to serve on the North Elba council while remaining on the village board, so his seat won’t be on the ballot. He said that to avoid conflicts of interest, he’ll bow out from the village board when it begins budget discussions.

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