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Niagara County Legislature: Ad hoc committee appointed to examine local impact, review county options on state's impending marijuana legalization

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Wed, Feb 20th 2019 08:10 pm

An ad hoc committee was officially appointed by the chairman of Niagara County Legislature, Keith McNall, in order to examine the local impact of the impending marijuana legalization in New York.

This committee is chaired by Legislator Jesse P. Gooch, who represents parts of both Niagara Wheatfield and North Tonawanda. Other members of the committee include legislators Rebecca Wydysh and Owen Steed, as well as Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek, Niagara County Sheriff James 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.

Gooch said it is critical for the legislature to hear from both the panel and the public, because the proposal Gov. Andrew Cuomo put forth permits both individual counties and cities with more than 100,000 residents to opt out – qualifying Niagara County for the opt-out provision.

If the county does choose this direction, 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,” Gooch said. “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.”

Gooch said he would like the committee to hold two or three public panel discussions on the issue in the coming months.

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