Glenville considers allowing marijuana sales

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GLENVILLE — After moving to prohibit cannabis-related businesses from opening in town two years ago, lawmakers are now considering reversing course. 

The Town Board has been developing zoning legislation to regulate marijuana dispensaries and on-site consumption facilities after prohibiting the businesses ahead of a state-imposed deadline in 2021. A public hearing on the proposal is expected to take place in the coming weeks followed by a vote later this spring.

Supervisor Chris Koetzle said the decision to opt out of allowing the businesses was made because of a lack of state regulations at the time, but noted lawmakers left open the possibility of revisiting the subject once guidelines were produced and a business owner came forward with plans to operate a dispensary.

“We figured it was prudent to opt out ahead of the deadline and wait and see until the rules were created and licenses actually started to get handed out,” he said. “When we did that, we promised that we would look at it if a license came forward.”

State lawmakers passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act in 2021, which legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over and established a regulatory framework for retail sales.

The law gave municipalities the option to opt out of allowing cannabis-related businesses from opening within their borders by passing a local law. Municipalities that opted out would be excluded from collecting any tax revenue generated from cannabis sales. Local governments that opted in are unable to back out later.

In Schenectady County, Glenville, Niskayuna, Princetown, Duanesburg and Delanson all opted out of sales. Schenectady, Rotterdam and Scotia opted in.

The state last year began issuing dispensary licenses under its Adult Conditional-Use Retail Dispensaries program, which aims to give those convicted of marijuana-related offenses access to the legal cannabis market. A total of seven such licenses have been awarded throughout the Capital Region, with seven more expected to be handed out in the coming months.

Donald Andrews, the owner of Upstate CBD located at 126 Saratoga Road, received a license under the program and is converting the shop into a dispensary. He is planning to open it in Schenectady on April 1. His dispensary license gives him authority to open up to three retail establishments.

“I want to have all three of my locations in Schenectady County,” Andrews said.

Under the proposed Glenville legislation, an overlay district would be created that would restrict dispensaries, on-site consumption facilities and stores selling hemp products to certain portions of Route 50 between Rudy Chase Drive and Skyway Drive, and along Route 5 between Rector and Vley Road.

The law would also require the businesses to be located away from parks, playgrounds, daycare centers, senior centers and restaurants with outdoor smoking, and would require a conditional use permit.

The town would also be required to pass a separate law opting back into marijuana sales, which Koetzle said he expects the Town Board would take up at the same time as the proposed zoning law.

Koetzle said the idea behind the overlay district was crafted with the intent to bring new businesses in commercial corridors that he called “economic deserts.”

“This allows us to control it more and use it as a catalyst in certain areas that are underperforming commercial corridors,” he said.

Asked if the potential for new tax revenue played a factor in the town reconsidering the businesses, Koetzle said no, noting its still unclear what the tax benefits of cannabis sales would be.

Under the state law, marijuana sales would be subject to a 4% excise tax, with 25% going directly to the county, and the remaining 75% would be divided between municipalities based on a proportion of sales.

Koetzle said he still has reservations about marijuana sales, including impaired driving, but noted that those concerns would remain even if the town didn’t allow dispensaries or on-site consumption facilities to operate.

“I feel comfortable that we’ve done a lot of work on this,” he said. “We’ve learned a lot and we’re not getting ahead of ourselves, so that gives me a sense of comfort.”

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.

Categories: News, News, Schenectady County, Scotia Glenville

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