GENEVA — Does the city see marijuana cafés in its future?
With City Council previously having given the green light to permitting marijuana dispensaries in the city, members took the next step this past week by agreeing to allow onsite consumption.
In the so-called marijuana cafés, adults will be able to order up cannabis products in the same way they would an adult beverage at a local bar.
Ward 2 Councilor Bill Pealer Jr. said these cafés would be the “equivalent of buying a beer at the bar and drinking it at the bar,” noting places such as Amsterdam in the Netherlands where this has long been practiced.
Cities, towns and villages have until Dec. 31 to opt out of allowing cannabis retail dispensaries and/or onsite consumption licenses within their jurisdictions. Municipalities cannot opt out of adult-use legalization, which was set in motion by the state Legislature earlier this year.
The setup is modeled after state liquor regulations, explained Assistant City Manager Adam Blowers at Wednesday’s City Council’s meeting. Someone can buy large quantities of liquor at the liquor store, but can’t buy a bottle of whiskey at a bar, he explained. Dispensaries are like the liquor store and the onsite consumption locations are the bars, Blowers said.
Blowers said the state does not allow dispensaries or marijuana cafés within 500 feet of a school or 200 feet from a house of worship but added that municipalities can set additional restrictions that would need state approval.
However, the onsite consumption facilities cannot be attached to other units, which “takes out a lot of possibilities” for places like downtown Geneva, Blowers indicated.
“It would have to be a standalone building,” he said.
Ward 5 Councilor Laura Salamendra supports cafés such as these in Geneva, saying they will help boost a city economy reliant on tourism.
“I’m in favor of onsite consumption,” said Salamendra, who noted she has seen these in her travels. “It really brings in more people.”
Six of eight councilors agreed the city should allow marijuana cafés. Ward 1 Councilor Tom Burrall and Ward 4 Councilor Ken Camera said a decision should be held off until more input is gathered.
The town of Geneva is allowing both marijuana dispensaries and onsite consumption, Blowers noted.