BLOOMINGDALE — The town of St. Armand will consider passing a resolution banning the smoking of tobacco, vapes and marijuana in its parks next month.
When the state legalized recreational marijuana for adults over 21 years old in April, it allowed cannabis to be smoked anywhere tobacco can be smoked, which has led many local towns and villages to take another look at their smoking statutes.
Town attorney Dan Manning is drafting the rule, and the town board will vote on whether to pass it at the July 13 meeting.
The measure would be a resolution, not a law, so it would not be legally enforceable by the police.
“We will just expect people to respect our request,” town Supervisor Davina Winemiller said.
Winemiller compared this to the “no alcohol” signs posted at the youth field. St. Armand does not have a law banning alcohol on public property, but it has signs saying alcohol is not allowed there. This is a rule, not a law. She said sometimes when teens are playing hockey there, some try to sneak a beer, and a town employee working there enforces the rule, but this is rare.
“I just want to protect our kids,” Winemiller said on April 13. “I wouldn’t want a kid walking by someone smoking on the sidewalk. I don’t want people in the park smoking, I don’t want people waiting at Teddy’s smoking when the kids from baseball games come to get ice cream.”
The resolution would apply to smoking at the youth field behind the fire hall and at the Veterans Memorial Park between the former Four Corners Diner and the First Methodist Church. Winemiller said she don’t want people leaving cigarette butts around where kids play.
The Veterans Memorial Park Committee recently began fundraising for improvements to the park by selling paver stones to be engraved with donors’ names. Winemiller said she doesn’t want people ashing on these either.
“I am 72 years old, and I was for the marijuana law being passed,” board member Warrene McCarthy said on April 13. “I totally agree with you that it has no business in our parks or walking on the street where children can be around.”
Rule instead of law
Initially, the board was discussing passing a local law banning smoking in parks and on sidewalks, but that’s been pared back to a rule just for the parks. Board member Donald Amell had questioned how a law would be policed by the town, and Winemiller said a law banning it might be too severe.
“Honestly, I don’t see it being a problem,” she said.
Board member Donna Bramer suggested just putting up “no smoking” signs.
Board member Joseph Bates said he didn’t think sidewalks needed to be included in the rule.
The state legalization law included a provision allowing municipalities to ban dispensaries, decline licenses to marijuana consumption businesses and impose civil fines for violations.
These towns would have to adopt a resolution by Dec. 31 and would exempt themselves from tax revenue generated from marijuana sales.
“I am not against allowing the sale of it in the town of St. Armand,” Winemiller said.
Sales will be taxed at 13% in New York: 9% to the state, 3% to the local government where the sale took place and 1% to the county. There can be an extra tax on more potent products with higher THC content.