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Hamburg votes in favor of marijuana sales

The town will allow marijuana shops and dispensaries to open when the state allows them to do so.

HAMBURG, N.Y. — Hamburg's Town Board met on Monday night for their regular meeting where lawmakers voted to opt-into allowing marijuana shops and dispensaries in the future.

This is a decision that all municipalities across the state have to decided on by the end of the year. They will all be opted-into allowing marijuana sales in their towns unless they otherwise vote against it.

Hamburg voted 3-2 in favor of allowing the businesses in the town in the future. Councilman Shawn Connolly spoke at the meeting. He said that this isn't an argument for or against legalizing recreational marijuana, he said, "it's simply how is our community going to participate in it." 

Councilwoman Elizabeth Farrell also spoke on the issue in favor of opting-out. She said that since the town can opt-in at a later date, waiting would allow local officials more time to figure out how to handle the issue. Councilwoman Farrell spoke specifically about differentiating between shops with on-site consumption and dispensaries.

Town Supervisor Jim Shaw said that he feels the Town of Hamburg should have the dispensary since it is one of the largest municipalities in the Southtowns. Shaw said, "If we opt-out of the retail dispensaries there's no guarantee that if we try to get in later that the State of New York will allow a dispensary here if Orchard Park or Evans or another community has already qualified for one." However, he did say that he was unsure about allowing the opening of on-site consumption shops citing issues with current zoning laws.

The town held public meetings about the topic in November, but did also allow the public to speak on decision. Residents who did speak up did so both for and against opting-out of marijuana sales.

In the end, Councilwoman Farrell and Councilman Michael Petrie voted to opt-out of marijuana sales, the others voted to opt-in which means that Hamburg will allow the sale of marijuana when the state allows for it in 2022.