SCHENECTADY — Mayor Gary McCarthy on Tuesday said he was “disappointed” in how the City Council handled its last-minute decision to opt-out of allowing marijuana dispensaries and on-site consumption facilities from opening within the city.
Under the state’s Marijuana Taxation and Regulation Act, approved by state lawmakers earlier this year, local municipalities have until Dec. 31 to pass a local law opting out of allowing dispensaries and on-site consumption facilities from opening within their borders.
Municipalities that opt out have the option to opt back in at a later date. But those that opt-in cannot back out at a later date. Municipalities that don’t act automatically opt into the law.
Local governments were given months to weigh the decision, but council members waited until Monday to discuss the subject in the hopes additional state guidelines would be released. The council chose to opt out in order to solicit public input and weigh other aspects of the law during a meeting of the Government Operations Committee.
“This is not an issue that has just come up recently,” McCarthy said. “This has been something that’s been out there for a very long period of time and I’m disappointed in the way the council is looking to deal with it at the very last minute.”
In order to opt-out, the council must pass a local law, which requires a public hearing that will take place later this month.
McCarthy said he was blindsided by the council’s decision and believed they would not take action to opt out of the state law, a path he would have liked to see the city continue on.
“I was encouraging them to continue the path,” he said. “None of them had indicated to me before that they were not going to let the state law take effect where the facilities would be allowed in the city of Schenectady.”
Under the law, cannabis can still be consumed by adults 21 and over regardless of a municipality’s decision to opt-out of allowing the facilities from opening.
At stake is a portion of the estimated $350 million in statewide sales tax revenue cannabis sales are expected to generate. Cannabis carries a 13% tax, with 9% going directly to the state.
The remaining 4% would be divided between counties and the local municipalities based on sales.
Council members agreed to take the subject up again in 90 days.
McCarthy did not have any information on when the public will be allowed to weigh in on the subject.
“That’s up to the purview of the council,” he said.
Schenectady joins a growing list of communities to opt-out of allowing dispensaries and on-site consumption facilities from opening within its borders. Nearby Glenville and Niskayuna have already opted out.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.