Catskill leans toward cannabis sales

Harmony Dispensary grows and sells medical cannabis, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Secaucus, N.J.

CATSKILL — The county seat appears poised to “go green” after residents advocated for the sale of marijuana in town.

Residents at Wednesday’s town of Catskill public hearing and committee meeting voiced their support for allowing marijuana lounges and dispensaries in the town limits

Town Supervisor Dale Finch said he’s “on board” with allowing dispensaries in town, but was open to further discussion on the establishment of marijuana lounges.

One resident named Sara said cannabis lounges differ from bars.

“My husband and I were talking earlier, we go to a dispensary, what are we going to do? Get back in our car, go back home,” she said. “If we go to a lounge, we’re going to hang out. We’re gonna shop. We’re gonna hit every restaurant. Who knows? Depends what you’re smoking. To bring jobs, to bring businesses, to help our poor restaurants that still need help, I think lounges are a great idea,” she said.

Lester Ostoyic, who lives on Route 32 in Catskill, said he shouldn’t have to give his money to towns like Great Barrington, Massachusetts, or even Hudson.

“I think that there’s a real growth opportunity on a broad scale for the town, if it gets in on the ground floor of this sort of thing,” he said.

The cannabis business could be lucrative from an agricultural perspective in the county, another resident added.

“We are an agricultural community. We know how to grow things here. We have the machinery, we have the manpower and the womanpower, we have the land and we and we have land that’s gone fallow for years and years and years because we haven’t had a productive crop,” he said.

Village resident Elliot Matos said people in the area are interested in the business.

“I personally know people who are waiting to grow in our county. And you can see a lot of cooperatives happening as well. So I just want to put that out there and I think it’s a very positive thing to think about,” Matos said.

Those looking to partake in marijuana are looking to relax, not to cause trouble, a resident said.

“For those that are like ‘nay on the cafes,’ just think of all the bars that are in our town, all the liquor stores that are in our town. There’s more liquor stores than there are parks for kids, right? There’ll be way more trouble or danger coming out of a bar than there would ever be coming out of a cafe,” she said.

Finch said the key is getting in on the dispenaries.

“The bigger money is those dispensaries. So I think that’s something — you can’t be late to that, if you’re late, you’re just not going to succeed,” Finch said.

The deadline for municipalities to decide if they wish to opt out of allowing marijuana dispensaries or on-site cannabis consumption lounges in their communities is Dec. 31.

When New York legalized adult-use marijuana on March 31, a new Office of Cannabis Management was created which will issue licenses for dispensaries and lounges in municipalities that do not opt out by passing a local law by Dec. 31.

Possession and use of marijuana is now legal for adults 21 and over in the state and municipalities are not allowed to opt out of that portion of the legislation.

The Catskill Town Board was not required to hold a public forum, but Finch said he would strongly consider the public’s will before the town makes a decision.

“Honestly, I really want to hear from the people of the town of Catskill to get opinions on it first,” he said. “It’s a revenue-driven thing through the state of New York. The towns, along with the county, would get a 4% sales tax that goes back to the townships. So that’s a positive, but I personally wouldn’t make that decision just based on revenue. We want to see what other impacts it would have on our community. It’s really a wide-open thing at this point, I believe.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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