PHILMONT — Mayor Brian Johnson does not want marijuana dispensaries to come to the village, even though the businesses could generate considerable sales tax revenue.
Trustee Debra Gitterman brought the topic of dispensaries to Johnson and trustees Larry Ostrander and Douglas Cropper with caution at the Village Board of Trustees workshop meeting.
“Speaking of municipal taxes, this is a little controversial, but I would like us to kind of, and I don’t know where I stand on it, but I’d like us to think about it, so...,” she said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legislation allows marijuana producers and distributors to obtain separate licenses, and municipalities will have to decide whether they want to allow dispensaries, Gitterman said.
Johnson immediately said he didn’t like the idea.
“I don’t want to allow it,” Johnson said. “I’ll tell you right now. I’m not in favor of it at all. I don’t think Philmont should be known for the best pot in town. I really don’t.” Cropper agreed with Johnson just as immediately.
“I’m with you on that,” he said. “I don’t want to see it. I don’t even want it legal in the state.” Johnson, as he walked across the room after getting up from his seat at the beginning of the conversation, echoed Cropper. “Nope,” he said in rejection to state legalization.
Ostrander disagreed and supports dispensaries coming to Philmont. He compared dispensaries to liquor stores on Main Street.
“It’s kind of the same thing,” Ostrander said. “It’s recreational drugs. I would be 100% in favor of it and I’m not a user.” Gitterman contacted municipalities in Colorado with similar populations to Philmont to research the idea, she said. She didn’t think it would be a good idea for Philmont until she looked further into the issue.
Officials in a small town Gitterman spoke with told her they made $150,000 in its first year from marijuana and sales taxes and can now use that money to redo their streets, she said.
The municipalities spoke highly of the dispensary businesses, saying the businesses have been community-minded, reputable and follow the rules. “I don’t know, the clerks and the municipalities just said it’s the best thing,” she said.
Johnson questioned where a dispensary would go in the village, saying there are apartments above the storefronts on Main Street. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for Philmont,” he said. “I really don’t.”
Philmont will be left behind while dispensaries develop elsewhere, Ostrander warned. “It’s going to happen everywhere else,” he said.
Gitterman agreed, saying Philmont will lose out financially.
Ostrander suggested the board worry about it when the time comes and moved to table the discussion.