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Niagara County appoints committee to review options on NYS' impending marijuana legalization

The Niagara County Legislature has formed a committee to look at the impact and review the county's options on New York State's impending marijuana legalization.

LOCKPORT, N.Y. — The Niagara County Legislature has formed a committee to examine the impact and review the county's options on New York State's impending marijuana legalization. 

The ad hoc committee is chaired by Legislator Jesse P. Gooch.  Other members include: Legislators Rebecca Wydysh and Owen Steed, as well as Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek, Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour, Niagara County Director of Public Health Daniel Stapleton, Niagara County Director of Mental Health Laura Keleman, Niagara County Attorney John Ottaviano and North Tonawanda City Attorney Luke Brown.  

Legislator Gooch says the legislature needs to hear from the committee and the public about the state's proposal to legalize marijuana. 

There is a provision in the proposal that allows counties and/or cities with more than 100,000 residents to opt out. 

According to Legislature, if county does choose to opt-out, "the legislature would need to adopt an ordinance, law or resolution to bar the establishment or operation of any of the pot-licensed entities Cuomo is proposing. This would include a ban on cultivation or retail pot facilities anywhere in Niagara County." 

“The legalization of adult recreational marijuana is coming to New York State, that’s a certainty,” said Gooch in a released statement.  “As the county legislative body, it is imperative that we hear from any interested parties and gather as much information as needed to make an informed and educated decision regarding the opt-out provision, as well as the expected impact within our community. 

Niagara County DA Caroline Wojtaszek -- a member of the committee writes in statement:

"My biggest concern, however, is our public roadways and the use of marijuana while driving. Prosecutors need the tools necessary to effectively prosecute those cases and hold offenders accountable."

Legislator Gooch says the committee will look to have its first meeting next month and will have public forums then present a report to the legislature. 

2 On Your Side also asked other counties in Western New York if they're looking to setup their own committees on recreational marijuana. 

Both the Orleans County chief administrative officer and the Chautauqua County Executive say they need to see what the law before taking any action. 

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