Penn Yan officials mull marijuana issues | News

PENN YAN — Like many municipalities across the state, the Penn Yan Village Board is considering the commercial sale and use of marijuana.

The board’s scope on the issue, however, is broader than most. Those aspects will be discussed at a public hearing Tuesday at Village Hall.

“We want to hear from the public on these issues,” said Mayor Leigh MacKerchar, who is serving on a marijuana subcommittee that includes Trustee Rich Stewart, who is chairing the committee, and Tom Dunham, police chief.

The topic town and village boards are facing is whether to opt out of new state rules that legalize the possession and use of certain amounts of marijuana. Municipalities have until Dec. 31 to opt out of the retail sales provision.

If a municipality does not opt out by the end of the year, it can never opt out. If it opts out, it can reverse that decision and allow retail sales at any time.

MacKerchar said another aspect is possibly banning people from smoking marijuana at village parks and playgrounds, and on sidewalks and streets.

“One of the issues is marijuana being an intoxicant and public safety,” he said. “Do we want school kids walking through clouds of smoke? People can’t drink (alcohol) in parks, but could they smoke marijuana there? We really don’t want people smoking marijuana where others are having a picnic.”

However, MacKerchar and Stewart said the New York Council of Mayors believes there will be legal challenges if smoking marijuana at certain sites is prohibited, but tobacco use and vaping is allowed.

“Think about the bars that have outdoor tables for smokers,” Stewart said. “We don’t want Penn Yan to be a test case.”

The hearing will start at 6:05 p.m. There is no virtual option for attending. MacKerchar said face coverings are required.

MacKerchar said another issue if the village allows retail sales and onsite consumption is zoning.

No decision will be made right after the meeting, he noted.

“We do not have our minds made up,” Stewart added. “We really do want to hear from the public on this.”

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