Last week, the Orange County community of Goshen, New York voted to opt out of allowing recreational cannabis businesses to set up shop in their town.
Under the new Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), towns, villages and cities may opt out of allowing retail dispensaries and on-site consumption licensees to operate within the municipality’s jurisdiction. But to do so, they must adopt a local law by December 31, 2021.
Goshen adopted its opt-out law by a 3 to 2 vote.
But Zachary Constantine, a resident of Goshen and a student at the University at Albany, said the decision by the town board came as a surprise, since he thought the town was ready to embrace cannabis sales at an earlier hearing in July.
When asked why, Constantine said the enthusiasm in the room was palpable.
“It was a mixture of the energy surrounding the new legalization and the new economic opportunities associated with it. And it was also the indication from the board themselves.”
The public administration student expressed his displeasure with the board’s decision in a two-minute monologue during a town board meeting last week that was captured on a friend’s phone. The friend then posted the diatribe to the social media platform TikTok.
As of Friday afternoon, the post has received over 695K views, and 155K “Likes.”
“The response was great. I certainly wasn’t expecting nearly 700,000 people, as of today, to see that video,” Constantine said.
In the TikTok video, Constantine alleged that Goshen’s five board members ignored young voices.
Capital Tonight asked Town Supervisor Douglas Bloomfield if he reached out to young people before putting the decision to a vote. He said he did not.
“People called me and wrote me little notes, things like that. And they probably were above 40,” Bloomfield recalled. “These people probably have more experience with family members or friends who were drug addicts, versus the youngsters.”
“I didn’t search out anybody to be very candid with you. Most of the people I talked with had children or grandchildren who were concerned about this.”
Bloomfield also told Capital Tonight that he was the chairman of a Wilmington, North Carolina substance abuse organization.
“I saw the devastation that addiction, whether it be an eating disorder, or a gambling disorder or alcoholism or whatever,” Bloomfield said.
According to Richard Golden, attorney for the Town of Goshen, Constantine does have another avenue to pursue.
Under the MRTA, the vote by the board is subject to a permissive referendum governed by the Municipal Home Rule Law.
“After the vote was taken to adopt, it doesn’t go into effect right away,” Golden explained. “The town has to wait 45 days. If within those 45 days a petition is filed by registered voters of the town to put it on a referendum, then it won’t become effective unless and until there is a referendum vote.”
Constantine told Capital Tonight that he will pursue a referendum.