By John Anderson
Village of Wellsville trustees voted 5-0 to opt-out of allowing marijuana dispensaries in the village on Monday night. During a public hearing, a majority of the speakers were in favor of the stores, and some pointed out the village zoning laws would allow the government to have control on location and hours.
However, trustees have said for months the state was too vague with information on the law and they had no option but to vote not. Elected officials also pointed out they have an option to opt-in at a later date.
If enough signatures are gathered, the the registered voters in the village of Wellsville could be making that decision. If enough signatures are gathered in the next 30 days, a vote will take place. Village Trustee Mike Roeske said he would help gather the signatures.
“I do not use marijuana, but that is not the point,” Roeske said. “This is a decision that should be made by the public and I support public participation when it comes to important issues.”
Andrew Harris (who is a writer on this site but has no input in coverage of these stories) from the Highland Cannabis Cooperative along with attorney Ed Pekarek, spoke to the board at the end of the regular board meeting Monday night.
Pekarek and Wellsville Village Attorney Rich Buck have had multiple conversations and exchanged emails and documents for months on a referendum, which they jokingly called a reefer-endum, yet there was confusion between trustees and they village attorney on the rules and law.
When Harris and Pekarek were told they needed signatures from 20 percent of registered voters, they countered it was 20 percent of registered voters who voted in the last general election. No one had an answer.
When there was confusion on Article 9 of village law when the 30 days would begin to gather signatures as well as confusion on repealing the opt-out vote, Harris said to Buck, “I’m disappointed you don’t know the answers.”
Buck deadpanned, “I’m sorry you are disappointed, I’m a lawyer not a magician.”
Pekarek pointed out, “A referendum takes the heat off the village. It seems there is little to any downside to the village to choose to entrust this to the citizens.”
Harris said he wanted to avoid going door-to-door for signatures. Buck said he didn’t see the downside of doing that and said “there is something about doing that and hustling.”
Roeske told the group to start getting signatures now and not wait a month just to get blindsided that their 30 days was up. Wellsville Mayor Randy Shayler agreed and said “that’s the point I am making.”
For those interested in gathering signatures to demand a public vote on the matter, contact Harris’ Highlands Cannabis Cooperative on Facebook or email to [email protected]