ROTTERDAM — Lawmakers on Wednesday will vote on a local law that would regulate where marijuana dispensaries and on-site consumption facilities can operate in town during a special Town Board meeting set to take place hours before the first legal cannabis sales begin in the state.
The state’s first marijuana dispensary is set to open in New York City on Thursday.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, in a news release last week, announced Housing Works, a Manhattan-based nonprofit that supports formerly incarcerated New Yorkers, will begin adult-use cannabis sales after being awarded one of 36 dispensary licenses handed out by state regulators last month as part of the Seeding Opportunity Initiative.
The initiative was created to help the state meet the social justice goals laid out in the Marijuana Regulations and Taxation Act, which legalized cannabis use for adults 21 and over last year and established a regulatory framework for sales.
Four Capital Region businesses were also awarded Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary Licenses, including Donald Andrews, a Schenectady-based businessman who operates a CBD shop. The licenses were designed to give those with past marijuana-related offenses the first crack at the legal market.
“The industry will continue to grow from here, creating inclusive opportunity in every corner of New York state with revenues directed to our schools and revitalizing communities,” Hochul said in a statement.
But in Rotterdam, feelings about marijuana dispensaries have been mixed.
A number of residents and stakeholders, including those from the Mohonasen Central School District, urged the previous Town Board last year not to allow dispensaries and on-site consumption facilities until additional guidelines were handed down by the state.
Under the state law, municipalities had the option to opt out of allowing cannabis-related businesses from operating within their borders, but had the ability to opt in at a later date. Those that allowed the businesses, however, are unable to opt out.
But the previous slate of lawmakers said the potential for new tax revenue was too good an opportunity to pass up, despite the concerns.
Marijuana sales include a 4% local tax, with 25% going directly to the county and the remaining 75% being split between municipalities that allowed cannabis sales based on a proportion of sales.
In a public hearing earlier this month, residents urged the Town Board to take a cautious approach when adopting regulations for cannabis-related businesses.
Under the proposed town law, dispensaries would only be allowed to operate in the town’s general business, light and heavy industrial zoning districts, while on-site consumption facilities would be limited to the light and heavy industrial districts. Both types of businesses would be required to obtain a special-use permit from the town’s Planning Commission.
The proposed law also requires operators to demonstrate the business has adequate parking and pedestrian access, and must have a plan that would contain odors on site. The businesses would be prohibited from operating within 500 feet of schools and 250 feet of a house of worship, parameters enshrined under the state law as well.
Under the law, businesses would be able to operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
In November, the town’s Planning Commission issued a positive recommendation on the legislation, citing a need to have regulations in place before cannabis-related businesses are brought forward.
The Town Board will meet to vote on the legislation 7 p.m. Wednesday at Town Hall, 1100 Sunrise Blvd.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.