Mechanicville shuts door on cannabis cafes on same day state announces opt-out portal

A marijuana plant is shown at Vireo Health in Johnstown.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

A marijuana plant is shown at Vireo Health in Johnstown.

MECHANICVILLE – The city is the latest Saratoga County community to prohibit businesses that would allow marijuana to be consumed on the premises.

The City Council on Wednesday voted 4-0 to opt-out of establishments that would allow on-site consumption of cannabis.

It did so after holding a public hearing during which one speaker, a member of the media, asked a question that sought to clarify that the vote wouldn’t include purchase-and-go businesses.

Mayor Dennis Baker said that if the city hadn’t opted out of allowing marijuana bars by Dec. 31, it would automatically be subject to allowing those kinds of businesses.

The Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act that was enacted in March gives cities, towns, and villages until the end of the year to pass a local law that makes a request to the state Cannabis Control Board to opt their jurisdiction out of hosting retail and/or on-site cannabis consumption licensees.

Mechanicville Commissioner of Accounts Mark Seber introduced the measure.

In an interview, Seber said he didn’t believe Mechanicville was “quite ready” for marijuana bars.

“I think we have to see where everything goes. Unlike the retail establishments where somebody buys the product and goes and uses it in a private setting or confined setting, just having establishments where people can go in and smoke, I just don’t think is right for this community – at this time anyway.”

The town of Ballston voted to opt-out of allowing cannabis bars in September, and the town of Milton had a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday evening.

In Saratoga Springs, a draft unified development ordinance includes a principal use definition for a marijuana dispensary and indicates that such use would be allowed in the neighborhood center zoning district as well as gateway commercial districts, subject to a special use permit, according to city Attorney Vincent J. DeLeonardis.

Broadway is predominantly in the urban core zoning district and as such, a marijuana dispensary would not be permitted there under the ordinance, DeLeonardis said.

“As more guidance comes out from New York State’s newly created Control Board and Office of Cannabis management, we will likely have to review our regulations and make adjustments as necessary,” the Saratoga Springs official said.

Mechanicville officials took action on the same day the New York State Office of Cannabis Management announced the availability of a web-based portal through which localities seeking to opt-out of hosting cannabis retail dispensary and/or on-site cannabis consumption licensees within their jurisdictions can send requests to the state Cannabis Control Board. 

“This web portal will enable localities to file their local law opt-out requests and ensure that the Cannabis Control Board has this key information as we consider license applications and the siting of cannabis businesses,” Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright said in a statement.

“I am thankful to the Office of Cannabis Management for working with our local government partners to create this tool; and I encourage localities requesting to opt-out of hosting dispensary and on-site consumption licensees to file their requests promptly so we can build an accessible, safe and equitable industry in New York.”

“The Office of Cannabis Management wants to ensure all New Yorkers have their voices heard as we build a new, safe cannabis industry and we are proud to be working with our local government partners to deliver a web-based portal to make it easier for them to inform the Cannabis Control Board of their market participation decisions,” OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander said.

Localities that opt out by Dec. 31 can opt back in.

Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766. 

Categories: News, Saratoga County

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