SUNY Albany student slams city council over weed vote

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Last week, the Orange County community of Goshen, New York, voted not to allow recreational cannabis businesses to locate in their city.

Under the new Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), towns, cities and towns can choose not to allow dispensaries and on-site consumption licensees to operate in the jurisdiction of the municipality. But to do that, they must pass a local law by December 31, 2021.

Goshen passed his opt-out law by 3 votes to 2.

But Zachary Constantine, a resident of Goshen and a student at University of Albany, said the city council‘s decision came as a surprise because he believed the city was ready to accept cannabis sales in an earlier hearing in July.

When asked why, Constantine said the enthusiasm in the room was palpable.

“It was a mix of energy surrounding the new legalization and the new economic opportunities associated with it. And that was also the indication of the board itself.

The public administration student expressed his displeasure with the council’s decision in a two-minute monologue at a city council meeting last week that was captured on a friend’s phone. The friend then posted the rant on the TikTok social media platform.

As of Friday afternoon, the post had received over 695,000 views and 155,000 likes.

“The response has been tremendous. I certainly didn’t expect nearly 700,000 people to see this video to date, ”Constantine said.

In the TikTok video, Constantine alleged that Goshen’s five board members ignored the young voices.

Capital tonight asked city supervisor Douglas Bloomfield if he contacted the youth before putting the decision to a vote. He said no.

“People would call me and write me little notes, things like that. And they were probably over 40, ”Bloomfield recalls. “These people probably have more experience with family members or friends who are addicted to drugs than young people.”

He continued.

“I haven’t looked for anyone to be very frank with you. Most of the people I spoke with had children or grandchildren who were concerned about this.

Bloomfield also said Capital tonight that he was the president of a drug addiction organization in Wilmington, North Carolina.

“I’ve seen the devastation of this addiction, whether it’s an eating disorder, a gambling disorder, alcoholism or whatever,” Bloomfield said.

According to Richard Golden, lawyer for the city of Goshen, Constantine has another way forward.

Under the MRTA, the council vote is subject to a permissive referendum governed by the Law on Municipal Self-Government.

“After the vote has been taken to adopt, it doesn’t go into effect right away,” Golden explained. “The city has to wait 45 days. If within those 45 days a petition is filed by registered voters in the city to submit it to a referendum, then it will only become effective if and until there is a referendum vote.

Constantine said Capital tonight that he will pursue a referendum.

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