As the Dec. 31 deadline looms for communities to decide if they want to opt out of allowing adult-use recreational marijuana businesses, Town Supervisor Christopher Koetzle suggested that the town take that path for now to buy itself some time.
That’s because Glenville can opt out before the December deadline, then change its mind and opt back in if it decides ultimately to host adult-use marijuana dispensaries or coffee-shop type businesses where cannabis can be smoked on the premises, Koetzle said.
But if it doesn’t opt out prior to Dec. 31, it will never be able to opt out, he said.
“To me, the logical thing for our community would be to opt out, because applications can’t come in until late 2022,” the supervisor said.
Koetzle was the predominant speaker during Wednesday night’s community forum on the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act. Twelve people signed up to attend the meeting in person, but about five showed up. Another 50 signed up to watch the webinar.
Another key takeaway from the forum was Koetzle’s belief that hosting marijuana businesses wouldn’t necessarily yield a significant financial boost to the town. A 4 percent tax is imposed on the sale from retail dispensaries.
Using the example of a company producing $1 million in revenue, Glenville would receive $30,000 after the county gets its $10,000 share, said Koetzle, indicating he had conducted limited research but had no idea how much annual revenue a marijuana business would generate.
Koetzle said he wasn’t suggesting “$30,000 is anything to sneeze at – we’ll take anything that anybody wants to give us.”
But to people who argue that the town needs the revenue, he said, “It’s not going to be the savior of any municipality.”
Koetzle indicated he felt larger local cities such as Schenectady or Albany would produce larger revenues as possible destinations for buyers. He suggested Glenville wouldn’t capture business from Thruway travelers, or from out of state residents, considering all of New York’s border states have passed similar laws.
“I guess I say to myself, will people want to come to Glenville to buy this or will it be in Schenectady or will it be in Albany.”
He added that this is why it might make sense to opt out and watch the market.
To date, there haven’t been any applications received by the town.
Another key to consider is that the law allows adults to smoke pot anywhere in public that smoking tobacco is allowed, and Glenville doesn’t have an ordinance that prohibits smoking in public parks. Theoretically, people can light up in its parks, and “that’s something we’re going to have to address” as a possible change to the town code, the supervisor said.
One speaker said that she would find it problematic having to share parks with marijuana smokers.
Police Chief Stephen Janik did not attend the forum, but Koetzle told a questioner who asked about the standard for probable cause when marijuana emits from vehicles that Janik is against legalization of marijuana, because of information he had reviewed about the impact of driving while impaired by marijuana from other states, Koetzle said.
The law forbids businesses to establish 500 feet of a school or 200 feet of a house of worship.
Prospective businesses must provide notice to the town between 30 days and 270 days before applying for the license to the state.
The municipality has the option to submit an opinion either for or against the application, or it can stay silent.
The state control board must respond to the opinion letter with an explanation of how the opinion was considered in granting or denying the application.
The village of Scotia within Glenville must make its own decision regarding opting out or allowing businesses.
Glenville’s decision is subject to permissive referendum, meaning residents could force a community wide vote by collecting signatures.
A community can use zoning laws to restrict where businesses can operate.
However the local regulations must be reasonable.
“Some people like to say, make it so hard that people don’t want to come here and you can’t do that,” Koetzle said.
Eventually, the town will conduct a survey through its website for Glenville residents to make their feelings known, for or against, on charting the town’s future concerning marijuana commerce.