For officials, devil in details of cannabis law

Local municipalities will need to review the laws surrounding marijuana legalization. Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Officials said Friday they need more time to study legalized marijuana legislation before they know if selling it in their towns is something they want.

The state Wednesday legalized recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act “will generate millions of dollars in new revenue,” according to the state. It could reach a projected $436 million in revenue.

Towns, cities and villages may pass local laws and regulations governing the time, place and manner of the operation of licensed adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries and on-site consumption site. With that in mind, local municipalities will have to make decisions in the near future about where they will allow retail dispensaries or on-site consumption sites to open up.

Columbia County officials seemed to agree it is too soon in the process to say if they will support shops opening in their respective municipalities.

Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman and Stockport Town Dupervisor Matt Murell said he has not read the new laws.

“In terms of the town, it will be up to my town board,” Murell said. “And I think were going to have to take a thorough look at it to decide what’s best for the town.”

Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson is uncertain of his feelings about marijuana dispensaries coming to Hudson.

“I think Hudson is a pretty progressive city, so I think they’ll be more welcome than not, But I just need to know more about what policy is going to be behind them and how, if they do come to the city, how they can benefit the population,” he said.

Johnson and other mayors are discussing creation of a policy about municipal workers coming to work high.

Some people have expressed concern about dispensaries sending a negative message to youth, but Johnson doesn’t think that would be a huge issue, he said.

“I’ve never really heard a young person say they have trouble getting weed,” he said. “For me, I don’t think that would be too much of an issue, but you never know. I just think there is a lot of unknown.”

Johnson is glad the smell of marijuana can no longer be used as probable cause for police searches, he said.

“I feel that traditionally has been used as an excuse to profile those from disadvantaged communities,” he said.

Greenport Planning Board Chairman Edward Stiffler expects regulations that will have to be addressed for dispensary applicants, he said Friday.

“As a member of a local planning board, I do not speculate on any possible project that may come before the board,” he said in a statement. “I deal with facts and not emotions so I cannot comment on this issue. I am sure before the first shop is approved in New York state, there will be guidelines and regulations that will have to be addressed by each applicant.”

Philmont Mayor-elect Brian Johnson does not have thoughts on whether or not the village plans to welcome dispensaries or what it could mean for taxpayers because the board has not met about it, he said Friday. He pointed out the decision was made by the state yesterday.

The village will be debating the dispensary license in the coming months, Trustee Debra Gitterman said.

Stuyvesant Town Supervisor Ronald Knott also has not talked to board members about the legislation and needs to learn more about the details, he said. He does not expect dispensaries to come to the town, but also doesn’t think the town would vote against it.

“I wouldn’t think that Stuyvesant is a place where we would see a dispensary, but you never know,” he said. “That’s subject to conversation in the future.”

Anything that generates sales tax for the county is a good thing, but Knott does not fully understand where all the tax would go, he said. He wants to learn more and discuss it with other board members.

“The devil is always in the details and now we need to read the details,” he said.

It is likely the town board will have the responsibility of reviewing zoning laws and determining if they want to make the sale of recreational marijuana something they permit as a business in the town, Ancram Town Supervisor Arthur Bassin said.

“I haven’t really given that a lot of thought,” Bassin said. “Like most people I’m still trying to become familiar with the new law.”

Bassin said because legalization occurred so recently, at this point he is neutral about the idea of allowing sales in the town because he does not know enough about the pros and the cons.

Austerlitz Town Supervisor Robert Lagonia said he has not yet read through the legislation surrounding legalization and did not have any comments about it at this time.

“For the town of Gallatin which I represent we don’t have any commercial or retail outlets,” Gallatin Town Supervisor John Reilly said. “So this would be kind of a moot point for us. We’re a town without a town.”

Kinderhook Town Supervisor Patsy Leader said she was not sure about the possibility of allowing sales of recreational marijuana in the town.

“I’d have to actually look at the bill and see what they actually passed and how much it would be for taxes,” Leader said. “And what we would be getting from them for this.”

Chatham Mayor John Howe said it is too early to comment about what the village might want to do. He said it is something the board will discuss in the future.

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(3) comments

BASEMENTDWELLER

Cannabis doesn’t just show up in communities post-legalization. It’s been around longer than probably ever person interviewed. People don’t care about bars or liquor stores. Cannabis in a retail environment shouldn’t be any different. The “reefer madness” mindset needs to exit stage left. Embrace the newest source of retail and tax revenue and let’s get on with our lives.

ScottMeyers

Personal freedoms only apply to the ones I agree with. Duh!!!

ScottMeyers

The inability of many of the Town officials quoted in this article to see the bigger picture and opportunities is somewhat disheartening.

A business like a dispensary not only generates revenue under the new taxes that are created by the new law, but also draws visitors to your community therefore increasing potential revenue for other businesses and small businesses especially in the area. This is not a hypothetical situation, one only has to look at the Berkshires to see this in action and to see how having dispensaries in these communities has brought a much larger flow of visitors and more business for all businesses in the area.

Also, cannabis businesses like dispensaries take a good number of people to operate. That's more jobs for the area, something we really need.

Instead of nonsensical things like worrying about how the new law is going to involve driving while intoxicated on cannabis, I said people driving intoxicated on cannabis is going to change any more than already exists, or really bad quotes like in the article with the one gentleman talking about "hydroponic lights" (whatever that is,it's actually just a combination of a couple words to make it sound scary, nothing real).

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