ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The City of Elmira will join the Villages of Bath and Watkins Glen as the handful of Southern Tier communities that will not opt-out of the pending marijuana laws allowing dispensaries and on-site consumption.
“We’re staying in,” confirmed Elmira Mayor Dan Mandell.
Elmira will be one of the few communities in Chemung County opting-in on both marijuana laws. The Village and Town of Horseheads decided to opt-out of the on-site consumption but will allow dispensaries.
In November Mandell told 18 News that it “wouldn’t make any sense for us to opt-out” as other communities went forward with declining dispensaries and on-site consumption.
Mandell said in discussions with local leaders and community members the support for marijuana is high due to the tax revenue benefits.
The Town of Elmira decided to opt-out of the marijuana laws, meaning the city would receive the full tax revenue if a dispensary were to open.
Mandell said it would “behoove” those who smoke marijuana to purchase it from a heavily regulated dispensary compared to on a street corner or the black market.
“The black market dealer, you don’t know what you’re getting,” said Mandell. “It could be tainted with anything.”
Opting-in does not guarantee that dispensaries will come to the community, as the county will receive only a few licenses based on the population size. Village of Bath Mayor Michael Sweet says he believes counties will receive one license for every 44,000 residents. The 2020 US Census reported Chemung County with 84,148 residents.
Voters in the Town of Veteran decided to opt-out in a referendum during the 2021 election. Plans for Wellsburg and Ashland remain unclear and 18 News has reached out to local leaders in both communities for a status on their laws.
In Steuben County, the Village of Bath, Pulteney, Rathbone, and Hornby have opted into both the dispensaries and on-site consumption, while the City of Corning and Town of Lindley opted in for dispensaries but out of on-site consumption.
Watkins Glen’s Board of Trustees decided to opt-in to both the dispensaries and on-site consumption but will set up zoning laws to increase the local regulation.
18 News has reached out to several other communities where an official announcement has not been posted. Communities have until Dec. 31, 2021, to opt-out of the law and those who do not act will automatically be included in the legislation.
Regardless of what a community decides on dispensaries and on-site consumption, marijuana will be legal across New York.