Saratoga Springs officials are seeking public input before they decide whether to prohibit certain marijuana business from operating in the city.
While city commissioners offered little insight into their position on opting out of marijuana dispensaries and stores that allow on-site consumption, they received a quick reminder at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that they have until Dec. 31 to decide whether they want to prohibit either or both of the two types of businesses they have a say on.
The city plans to open a section on the city website for about 30 days to gather public input into the marijuana businesses before revisiting the subject at future council meetings. If the city takes no action to prohibit any of the businesses, both dispensaries and places where marijuana can be consumed on site will be allowed to open in the city once state officials establish a statewide regulatory system. The council could pass a local law by Dec. 31 to prohibit one or both of the two types of businesses.
“I can’t imagine a world in which we opt out,” Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton said in what was the clearest position any of the city commissioners stated at Tuesday’s meeting.
City Attorney Vince DeLeonardis, who offered the City Council a quick refresher on the state’s new marijuana regulation law, said that if the city allows dispensaries and other marijuana businesses within the city it would receive revenue from a 3 percent sales tax, with another 1 percent tax going to the county.
DeLeonardis likened the two types of marijuana businesses the council could prohibit to alcohol sales: dispensaries compare to liquor stores while on-site consumption premises compare to bars and pubs.
City commissioners didn’t debate the subject but noted the closing timeline for sorting out whether they want to take action.
“I don’t know where we all stand,” Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said. “Those are conversations we should be having now, because there is a deadline looming.”
Local governments have until the end of the year to pass a local law restricting the marijuana-related businesses or they will be allowed by default. The town of Ballston, for instance, recently approved a measure that would prohibit businesses that allow on-site cannabis consumption, but the town will still allow other retailers to operate.
DeLeonardis said city officials should begin moving toward a decision, because if they want to pass a local law before the Dec. 31 deadline they will need time to publicize that action. He said the public would have an opportunity to submit comments on the subject through the city website.