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Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act

November 18, 2021 - 10:39am

The Le Roy Village Board is taking a “better safe than sorry” approach to New York State’s new law that allows communities to host retail dispensaries and on-site consumption locations of marijuana.

The board, at its meeting Wednesday night, held a public hearing on the topic before passing a resolution to adopt Local Law No. 6 of 2021, which allows the village to opt out of those businesses.

Municipalities such as the Village of Le Roy are required by the New York Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act to state their intentions by Dec. 31. Towns, cities and villages that opt out can always opt in at a later date, but those that opt in, can never opt out.

“There’s no urgency,” said Trustee Ray Yacuzzo. “Let’s be careful about this.”

Fellow board member Richard Tetrault suggested giving it a year to see how the situation plays out in neighboring communities to prevent someone coming in without the village having any say in the matter.

Residents in attendance pointed out the number of empty storefronts on Main Street, asking, “Why not keep that money here?”

Mayor Greg Rogers noted that the law states that cannabis dispensaries and consumption sites can't be within 500 feet of schools or churches and, “unfortunately, many Main Street shops are too close.”

Town Councilman Ron Pangrazio then presented a map of the Main Street area, adding that “Main Street is totally out.”

Rogers did say that other places in the village may be available, a sentiment echoed by Trustee Bill Kettle, who said, “There’s more to Le Roy than just two blocks (Main Street).”

Another comment from the audience focused on the fact that cannabis store owners are prohibited from depositing cash from sales into a federal bank, opening the door for an increase in robberies. That was rebutted by someone who mentioned that data shows that crime has not increased in areas that allow it.

The board’s action, per Cannabis Law Section 131 and Municipal Home Rule Law Section 24, can be challenged by a permissive referendum by the voters.

November 17, 2021 - 10:22pm


Batavia businessman Eric Biscaro’s attempt to construct a 30-duplex unit senior housing complex off East Avenue and develop 18 single-family home building lots on that street came to a screeching halt at tonight’s Le Roy Village Board meeting.

Biscaro introduced the project back in April to the Genesee County Planning Board following discussions with Village Mayor Greg Rogers about a development that could provide upscale housing for residents age 50 and over and generate much needed tax revenue for the municipality.

When residents in the East Avenue, Poplar Lane and Orchard Drive neighborhood found out about it, however, many of them rallied together to oppose the village board’s desire to change the zoning from Residential to Planned Unit Development to accommodate Biscaro’s venture.

Those against the plan voiced their opinions at a couple public hearings, citing reasons such as it was a bad fit for the area and concerns over stormwater runoff and increased traffic.

At tonight’s session, held at Memorial Auditorium on Trigon Park, Rogers clearly was disappointed as he communicated the fate of the project. Three of the five board members – Bill Kettle, Richard Tetrault and Ray Yacuzzo -- said they were going to vote against it. Rogers and Jim Bonacquisti said they were for it.

It never came to an official vote because a resolution to accept the required State Environmental Quality Review died for a lack of a second. As a result, the resolution to change the zoning was not considered.


Rogers said he thanked Biscaro and the board for the time and effort put into this subject.

“I respect my fellow board members and their professionalism and their opinions; that’s how the system works,” he said. “However, I will say, I still in my heart believe that Eric Biscaro was the right guy for the right piece of property at the right time.

“I’m glad he came to Le Roy and he wanted to be part of this community. He looked at a lot of different things. He looked to rescue Genesee Street. There are vacant houses on East Avenue that we looked into getting into rehabbing.”

The mayor said the village is going to lose “a possible asset here” but reiterated that this is the way the system works.

He then acknowledged that he did not find any satisfaction in presiding over the public hearings.

“I'm totally glad they're over, and you'll never get me to do another one of these,” he said. “So, thank you all for your time … And Eric, I'm terribly sorry. I appreciate you taking the shot on Le Roy. I’m sorry I dragged you into this.”


Rogers then asked Biscaro if he wanted to say something and he proceeded to bring up comments earlier in the meeting when the board held a public hearing about its decision to opt out of the adult use cannabis retail dispensaries and on-site consumption places under New York's Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act.

“I heard a lot today about empty stores on Main Street,” Biscaro said. “Le Roy, like a lot of places, has been losing population over the last 20 years. And I heard about tax money … It would be a whole lot more tax in this than any pot store locally; constant – coming in every year for forever.”

Biscaro said that developers aren’t knocking the door down to do business in the village.

“Fine, give me your opinions, but to make a decision on something … nobody's promoting their money to go and look at South Avenue, no one’s even looking there,” he said. “You said to look towards the next street down. Nobody's looking there. To the developer’s eyes, those types of reasons make no sense to us.  It's not what we’re proposing for development. We're proposing that we should stay right there and just look right there.”

Finally, he told the board that he was warned about pursuing a project in Le Roy.

“That's one thing I heard over and over and over again. ‘Are you kidding me? You're going to Le Roy. They don’t move on anything.’ This is what I was told over and over again by people that do business,” he said.

“You might want to be careful with that in your future because it's the developers … they’re not going to look (at this town) because nothing happens. That would be the complaint from the development person. I’m not sitting here stabbing anybody (as) I'm not jealous of you sitting in your seats, but sometimes you got to take a little bit and go forward. That’s something I'd recommend, not that that means anything here.”


Bonacquisti, Kettle, Tetrault and Yacuzzo addressed those in attendance prior to Rogers and Biscaro.

“I supported this project from early on -- single floor patio homes for 55 (actually 50) and above is needed in our community,” Bonacquisti said. “Keep in mind, this is my opinion. It's not your typical rental units. It was going to be a bump to our tax base (and) it was going to develop an area that has not been developed for 50 years.”

He contended that the response he received from village residents was “positive” except for those who live in the immediate area. And he said turning Biscaro’s project down could dissuade others from considering Le Roy.

“This is the second time that I've been on a board that a developer has come in the last 10 years and is trying to do something different in the community. And it's the second time they've been turned away,” he said. “My fear is no other developer will come to Le Roy. They see what has happened over the course of the last 10 years.”

Kettle said he did the math and believes that this is not “the best plan for the comprehensive plan that we have in the Village of Le Roy.”

“I think there's a better plan out there. I think there's a plan that will bring tax dollar revenues, 100 percent of assessed values to the coffers -- the school coffers, the village coffers, and the town and county coffers,” he said, implying that he didn’t agree with the payment in lieu of taxes agreement that Biscaro worked out with the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Tetrault, mentioning that he has been involved in construction, said he liked Biscaro’s plan but couldn’t vote for it because he hasn’t been made aware of the full scope of the project. Thus, he is wary of potential problems down the road.


“And some of the questions I had, I really never got clear answers for,” he said, noting that he was hoping to see a more detailed set of blueprints that encompassed all aspects of Biscaro’s proposal.

Yacuzzo said that connecting East Avenue with South Avenue (one of the conditions of the project) would be a terrible mistake, leading to “a crush of traffic” as people would use it as a shortcut on weekdays to get to the Le Roy Central School and after football games.

“If there's a connection to East Avenue anywhere else, I think it should be to Asbury Road and that would not serve as a shortcut … That's the sort of plan that I’d like to run by our planning board.”

As he was leaving, The Batavian asked Biscaro if he would consider a revised plan or another location in the village.

“No, it’s done,” he said.

Photo: Le Roy Village Board members at tonight's meeting, from left, Richard Tetrault, Ray Yacuzzo (speaking), Mayor Greg Rogers, Bill Kettle and Jim Bonacquisti. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: Patio homes/building lots development project is back on the Le Roy Village Board's agenda for tonight

Previously: Developer offers to pay to extend East Avenue as Village of Le Roy residents continue to question housing project

Previously: East Avenue area residents defend their 'jewel' of a neighborhood at public hearing on Le Roy development

November 17, 2021 - 12:56pm

A public hearing on the Batavia Town Board's recent passing of a resolution to opt out of New York's Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act is scheduled for 7:10 this evening at the Batavia Town Hall, 3833 West Main St. Rd.

The board, at its Oct. 20 meeting, scheduled the public hearing with the aim of opting out of allowing cannabis retail dispensaries and on-site consumption sites until it receives more details from state officials in charge of the program.

According to the new law, if municipalities opt in, they will not be able to opt out at a later date, but if they choose to opt out before the Dec. 31 deadline, they would be able to opt in in the future.

Should the board pass a local law to opt out following tonight's public hearing, it could result in a permissive referendum organized by residents who disagree with its decision.

Previously: Town Board looking to opt out of marijuana dispensaries, consumption sites due to lack of information

October 21, 2021 - 9:23am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act, town of batavia.

oip.jpgThe Batavia Town Board on Wednesday night voted to schedule a public hearing on a resolution that would enable the municipality to opt out of allowing cannabis retail dispensaries and on-site consumption sites through New York’s Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act.

“I don’t think there’s enough information from the State of New York to enter into something that we could never get out of,” Town Supervisor Gregory Post said following the monthly board meeting at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road. “The bottom line is that we can always opt in to it when we have more details and it is something that we can administer.”

Post said he was concerned that “a decision made by five people (the Batavia Town Board) probably isn’t a clear and transparent representation of the whole community.”

If a local law to opt out is passed following the public hearing set for 7:10 p.m. on Nov. 17 at the Town Hall, it could lead to a permissive referendum organized by residents who disagree with its decision.

“People opposing that law could get together and find their way to the ballot and ask the community whether they want this or not,” Post said. “In my opinion, this is too early in the game … and jump into this thing not know what the down-the-road consequences and financial implications are.”

The supervisor did acknowledge that eventually opting in to the new law could be “lucrative” to the town, which would receive 3 percent of the sales tax collected on cannabis transactions. The state would get 9 percent and Genesee County 1 percent.

“The county, which will be burdened with 100 percent of the cost of mitigating through mental health services, probation and any of the issues that come up from sales to minors – all of the cost and expense to the community through the health department, ultimately will receive only 25 percent of that (4 percent to municipalities),” he explained.

Post also brought up the fact that marijuana continues to be against the law at the federal level, and that regular testing of commercial truck drivers, who have to be free of substance use, will continue.

“The federal oversight and management of some of our largest employers, such as Graham, O-At-Ka Milk, HP Hood, those that are making food and are considered strategic investments have to be compliant,” he said. “It’s assumed that you’re OK to consume these (marijuana) commodities if they’re legalized in the town, and then go to work and find out you can’t work because you failed a drug test.

“We’re seeing as many as 50 percent of the drivers failing the drug tests because their assumption is if it’s legal, then I don’t have a problem. But yet, it is a problem.”

Signed into law by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 31, the MRTA paves the way to an estimated $1 billion industry with expected annual revenue of $350 million and the creation of between 30,000 and 60,000 jobs.

The legislation permits adult use of cannabis for those 21 years of age and up – people who may possess, display, purchase, obtain or transport up to 3 ounces of flower or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis.

It also expands New York’s existing medical marijuana program and immediately allows eligible users to smoke cannabis in public wherever tobacco is allowed.

Consumption is not allowed in schools, federal lands, workplaces or in vehicles as the federal government still has jurisdiction in those places.

The two types of retail sites are retail dispensaries, which could be storefronts to buy products for home consumption and adult use consumption sites, and lounge-like locations for purchase and use on-site.

Municipalities have until Dec. 31 to opt out of any dispensary or on-site consumption site within their jurisdiction.

Previously: County manager sounds off against sales tax diversion, misguided cannabis excise tax distribution

June 8, 2021 - 1:29pm

The reality that “once you’re in, you can never leave” has Le Roy Town and Village board members taking a cautious approach to any potential participation in the state’s new Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act.

Officials from both governing bodies gathered with about a dozen residents at the Town Hall courtroom Monday night for what turned out to be a 30-minute discussion on the recently passed legislation that immediately permits the recreational use of marijuana for residents 21 years of age and older.

The MRTA also opens the door for retail dispensaries and onsite consumption spaces, which likely are a couple years away from implementation.

“Part of this that concerns me is that if you’re in, you’re in forever and you can’t opt out,” Le Roy Town Supervisor James Farnholz said. “But if you’re out, you can jump in if it’s working (elsewhere).”

The “opt in” and “opt out” terminology applies to cities, towns and villages who may or may not want to have pot stores or lounges within their borders. Opting in means that the municipality would be eligible for the tax revenue imposed by the state on marijuana sales; opting out could lead to a public referendum, which could overturn that decision.

In any event, the deadline to decide is Dec. 31 of this year. But with the state still trying to figure out all the rules and regulations attached to the law, many local governmental leaders seem to be in no hurry.

Le Roy Village Mayor Greg Rogers said he is part of that group.

“We’re going to take as much time as we can – right to the end of December – because we believe the landscape will change eight or nine times until then,” he said.

As previously reported on The Batavian, the state is establishing the Office of Cannabis Management & Marijuana Control Board, which will have an executive director and will be housed inside the New York State Liquor Authority.

The office will implement regulations for production, licensing, retail, packaging, labeling and use, with the first sales not expected until 2022 or early 2023.

Currently, 18 states plus the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam have legalized cannabis for adult use. Another 13 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have decriminalized its use.

Farnholz said he doesn’t support a local law that would supersede the fact that marijuana is considered a Class One drug at the federal level.

“If you opt out, then down the road you can take some more time and see how it plays out in other communities. You then would have the opportunity to opt in or, in my opinion, if the federal government were to remove it as a Class One drug and it became legalized on a federal basis – to me that changes the discussion significantly,” he said.

He said the dispensary or consumption site can not be within 500 feet of a school or 200 feet from a place of worship, and that restriction – if not changed – would mean that Main Street in the village would be out due to the number of churches along Route 5.

In any event, Farnholz said the emphasis leading to a decision should be on what the law would mean to municipalities, not the morality of legalized marijuana.

“I don’t want to go down the road if legalized marijuana is good or bad,” he said. “We all have our opinions.”

Whiting said that municipalities are limited in what they can pass to just the two areas -- dispensaries or onsite consumption spaces.

“Other than that, the municipalities’ hands are tied and restricted,” he said.

Rogers said he is convinced that “somewhere in Genesee County, someone is going to sell it” but as far as Le Roy is concerned, he said the village board is going to discuss the possibility of a public referendum “to let the people decide if that is something that they want.”

A local law is subject to a permissive referendum, Whiting said, meaning that if 10 percent of the voters who last voted in the prior gubernatorial race sign a petition, there would have to be a referendum.

Several topics came up during the discussion, including the taxation schedule, drug impairment recognition, information from the state of Colorado, increased costs of public safety and federal law enforcement’s involvement.

Tax Revenue Split

Whiting pointed out that there is a 25/75 split between Genesee County and the municipality that allows the dispensary and the onsite spaces.

Specifically, the sales tax on cannabis will be 13 percent, with 9 percent going to the state, 3 percent to the host municipality and 1 percent to the county. Additionally, a THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) excise tax will be imposed.

David Damico, a resident and school teacher, said he’s all for the tax revenue but is concerned because he’s around teenagers all the time.

“I do think that whatever we decide to do tonight, that those who want it will get it,” he said. “We’re almost within walking distance of multiple villages that might opt in, including the big one down the road (Batavia), which is much bigger than us. So, I’m not really sure that keeping it off the books here is going to deter anybody.”

Farnholz replied, “I’m not sure we’ve deterred anybody since 1975,” adding that he spent 30 years as an educator and shares Damico's concerns.

Rogers said that “as far as the taxation and revenue goes, I don’t think our boards should make a decision based on thinking they’re going to get a boatload of tax revenue … This is a bigger issue than that for the social aspect.”

Recognizing Those Impaired by Pot

Farnholz said that local judges he has spoken to have a “grave concern” over it because of the lack of standards in testing for impairment.

Whiting said courses are available for law enforcement personnel to learn to recognize and detect marijuana impairment but they’re very time consuming.

Town Councilperson John Armitage mentioned that it takes a full year to train a police officer to become a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert).

“Paying this officer overtime, bringing in extra manpower – it is astronomical – and we’re not talking one or two deputies … you would have to have multiple deputies trained in DRE,” he said. “And the amount of tax you think you’re going to get, you’re not going to get (due to increased expense incurred for public safety and related services).”

Stein on Colorado: Unintended Consequences

Rochelle Stein, Genesee County Legislature chair, advised the boards that the county has no authority in this legislation before providing information from Colorado, which is one of the states that have legalized cannabis.

“The cost to public safety in that state has risen due to the sale of marijuana and the cost of public safety will be borne by the taxpayers when those costs go up (here),” she said. “The mental health, the physical health – those costs have also risen in Colorado. Incidentally, they will also tell you that the black market of cannabis has benefited greatly in Colorado.

“If there are some lessons to be learned, I would suggest that we look at Colorado and to see their experiences there. I would absolutely welcome the opportunity to opt out, preserve whatever you can for the future. If I were in your shoes, that’s what would do.”

Armitage agreed with Stein, adding that before any decision is made, board members need to look at these other states.

“I will tell you that Colorado’s accident rate is up over 400 percent since legalization, and that costs have increased more than the revenue that has been taken in,” he said.

Public Safety Costs a Major Concern

Armitage compared the MRTA to the influx of casinos, which in many cases have led to increase crime and public safety budgets.

“This is one of the worst ideas I have seen the state come up with yet, especially when other states have done it and you can see their numbers – it just does not work,” he said.

Stein also brought up that the dogs used as K-9 officers and their handlers would have to be retrained, which is another expense.

Resident Nikki Calhoun said that putting on two or three more village police officers “would be a significant cost to the village and eventually that will have to be passed on (to the taxpayers).”

“And, of course, the village can’t respond to other towns and Genesee County has limited resources for the sheriff’s on this side of the county, so I think you’ll have more problems,” she said.

Feds’ Involvement in Question

Whiting said states will be on their own when it comes to enforcement.

“My guess is that enforcement of marijuana consumption by the federal government will be very few and far between,” he said. “I’m sure they’re going to interdict large quantities coming into this country, but my hunch is that U.S. attorneys’ offices are not looking to prosecute anyone for personal consumption of marijuana.”

Resident Jay Beaumont opined that ultimately the federal government will leave it up to the states, calling it “ludicrous” that the feds classify marijuana as a Class One drug.

He also said he sees many changes from New York State before the end-of-the-year deadline to opt in or opt out.

Will Communities be Lining Up to Opt In?

The point was brought up that other communities will opt in and benefit from the tax revenue.

Farnholz had a different take on the issue.

“Looking at other states, the fantasy from the governor’s office that this is a major economic boon to the municipalities is just that – a fantasy,” he said. “You’re not going to get the financial boon that you think you are from a (cash only) dispensary. Because quite frankly, people will grow their own or the black market flourishes incredibly to avoid paying the 25-, 35-or 40-percent tax.”

Beaumont asked if it could be put to a vote to see what the residents’ feeling toward it is.

“We could do it one of two ways,” Farnholz replied. “Someone could come forward with a permissive referendum, which would be binding, or we could … have a (nonbinding) vote to gauge the feeling of the community (as the town did with the ambulance a couple years ago).”

Whiting said he expects more details to be released on a regular basis, which “will give us a lot of these answers.”

May 30, 2021 - 11:10am

gilbert_2.jpgCalling it the “ultimate hot button issue of the year,” a representative of the New York State Department of State said the legalization of the sale and growing of cannabis could have a profound impact upon farming communities such as those in Genesee County.

Paula Gilbert (photo at right), local government specialist with the Division of Local Government Services in Albany, advised that the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 31 paves the way to an estimated $1 billion industry with expected annual revenue of $350 million and the creation of between 30,000 and 60,000 jobs.

Gilbert imparted her knowledge of the new law earlier this month during a Hot Button Land Uses training webinar for municipal planning department personnel.

She said the economic benefit of cannabis production and sale is “really significant especially in some places in Upstate New York where we have distressed farmers that are really struggling today.”

“It’s not just selling these (products) in your community but there’s also going to be the whole pipeline of production and labeling and creating packaging,” she offered. “So, there’s a lot of opportunity for a lot of communities to get into the door.”

Farm owners in Genesee and other rural counties are leasing land to solar companies, reaping the rewards from lucrative contracts in that industry, and Gilbert is of the opinion that they will do the same for the growing of marijuana plants.

The legislation permits adult use of cannabis for those 21 years of age and up – people who may possess, display, purchase, obtain or transport up to 3 ounces of flower or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis.

It also expands New York’s existing medical marijuana program and immediately allows eligible users to smoke cannabis in public wherever tobacco is allowed.

Gilbert said that consumption is not allowed in schools, federal lands, workplaces or in vehicles as the federal government still has jurisdiction in those places.

She explained that there are two types of retail sites:

  • Retail dispensaries, which could be storefronts to buy products for home consumption and adult use consumption sites, such as those in Massachusetts, California and Colorado;
  • Lounge-like locations for purchase and use on-site.

Cannabis home delivery is planned for the future, she said, resulting in Door-Dash-type services.

Gilbert said the state is establishing the Office of Cannabis Management & Marijuana Control Board, which will have an executive director and will be housed inside the New York State Liquor Authority.

The office will implement regulations for production, licensing, retail, packaging, labeling and use, with the first sales not expected until 2022 or early 2023.

Following are other aspects of the law shared during the webinar:


Gilbert said the state is focusing on diversity – a 50-percent goal for minority or women-owned enterprises, distressed farms, disabled veterans – and small-scale production.

She said the strategy is different from other states in that New York is hoping to prevent large corporations and industries from controlling the market.

A person or company is prohibited from owning a growing facility and a dispensary, except for micro-enterprises, she said. A micro-enterprise can be defined as someone who owns all methods of production and only sells what is grown on-site.

In the future, home growing for adults will be limited to three mature and three immature plants, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.


Gilbert said that sales tax on cannabis will be 13 percent, with 9 percent going to the state, 3 percent to the host municipality and 1 percent to the county.

Additionally, a THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) excise tax will be imposed.

“The heavier the product, the more tax there is to it,” she said, outlining taxes of a half-cent per milligram of flower, eight-tenths of a cents per milligram of concentrated cannabis and 3 cents per milligram of edible cannabis or “higher-powered” products.

“Hopefully some of those tax dollars will go to help people who become addicted – that is also part of it,” she added. A portion of the state’s share of revenues will be used for addiction treatment options.


Municipalities have until Dec. 31 to opt out of any dispensary or on-site consumption site within their jurisdiction.

“However,” Gilbert said, “if you do opt out of this, it is something that can be challenged by a permissive referendum by the voters. If you’re a little nervous about this and you’re not sure if you want this in your community, you have to think about what you’re going to do.”

She said that because the regulations have yet to be finalized, she advises community leaders to take a wait-and-see approach.

“Once we get an idea from the Office of Cannabis Management & Marijuana Control Board, a lot of the questions will start to answer themselves,” she said.

If a community decides to opt out, it would lose the opportunity for the tax revenue. It would, however, have a chance to opt back in should legislative or public sentiment change.

In any event, municipalities cannot opt out of growing, testing or packaging facilities, and may not prohibit personal cannabis use in homes, she said.


Gilbert said the law also calls for expunging previous convictions related to cannabis, which is now considered legal, and said the state will take the prerogative in clearing the records of previous offenders to a point.

Not everyone is going to have their record expunged as the conviction reversal is based on the level that cannabis is allowed today, she said.

If the conviction involved a quantity greater than what is allowed under the new law, that criminal record would not be expunged.

“For the kid in high school caught with a small amount – it could undo that,” she said.


  • Individual cannabis growers will be allowed to grow plants outside, but most will be done in greenhouses since “they’re finicky plants anyway,” she said.

Growing for personal use will not happen until 18 months after the first retail store makes a sale.

  • Establishments that serve alcohol likely won’t be licensed to sell cannabis.

“They’re still trying to figure out how to tell if people are under the influence (of marijuana),” she said.

  • Chances are that medical cannabis dispensaries will be converted into retail sites.

“Yes, we’ve seen that in Massachusetts as well,” she said. “Because there is a pretty large medical cannabis industry in New York, it’s likely certain products (will be sold) for medical users and others for personal use.”

For more information, go to www.cannabis.ny.gov.

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