Marijuana forum is Wednesday at Opera House | News, Sports, Jobs

Marijuana laws in New York state changed significantly after the passing of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act in March. Some aspects of the law are already in place but cities, towns and villages still must decide whether to prohibit retail marijuana sales within their borders or to allow for sales.

Some Chautauqua County municipalities have already acted to “opt out” and preclude sales while other municipalities have yet to make the decision (or might simply permit sales by inaction), which must be made by Dec. 31.

Given the importance of such a significant issue, a panel community forum is set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House to offer attendees information and to answer questions about the act.

The forum, “Marijuana Legalization: What might the new law mean?” will be moderated by John D’Agostino, editor of the OBSERVER in Dunkirk, The Post-Journal in Jamestown and the Times Observer in Warren, Pa.

He will be joined on stage by four presenters: Dr. R. Lorraine Collins, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Research with the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions; Penelope Hamilton Crescibene, executive director of WNY NORML; Brent Isaacson, chief, SUNY Fredonia University Police Department; and Melanie Witkowski, executive director, Prevention Works.

Dr. Collins was appointed to a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s ad hoc committee that reviewed the health effects of cannabis. In 2017, the committee published a consensus report entitled, The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research Agenda, which continues to serve as a definitive overview of cannabis and health. In August 2018, Dr. Collins was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as one of 20 members of a workgroup to draft legislation for a regulated adult-use marijuana program in New York State.

Crescibene is the director of the Western New York NORML, a regional chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a consumer advocacy organization.

Isaacson, SUNY Fredonia University Police Chief. Mr. Isaacson has been the Chief of the SUNY Fredonia University Police since July of 2019. Prior to that, Mr. Isaacson had worked as a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation since 1996.

Witkowski is the executive director at Prevention Works, a New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports provider in Chautauqua County.

There is no charge for admittance to the forum. Due to the increase in COVID infections in the county, face masks will be required for entrance to the event.

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