Newburgh supervisor Gil Piaquadio initially expected his city to step aside, the cautious gamble of New York City municipalities weighing in on the unknown idea of allowing marijuana shops and smoking rooms to open.
But then, he explained, customers would just go elsewhere if Newburgh banned these types of businesses. So why not direct this new business activity to your own city, whatever your personal vision of it?
“We’re not going to stop it by not selling it in town,” he said.
One by one, the state’s city councils held hearings and voted on whether to ban dispensaries and cannabis consumption sites once the state began allowing them. Each had until December 31 to “opt out” under state law enacted in March that legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults.
Those who forgo this option before the deadline cannot decide later to ban the pot businesses. But those who opt out can change course at any time. And for many local Orange County leaders, that flexibility was reason enough to pass bans for the time being while New York City monitors the development of the new industry.
“We didn’t want to tie future village governments to a law they couldn’t get out of,” said Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer, whose lakeside village has pulled out of retail sites and of consumption.
Most of the 43 municipalities in Orange County have taken the same course. As the December 31 deadline approached, seven appeared likely to authorize dispensaries and only three – the Town and Town of Newburgh and the Village of Woodbury – were required to authorize places where cannabis products are sold and consumed. , according to a statewide options database. decisions compiled by SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government and Times Herald-Record reports.
The flood of bans still leaves scattered places across Orange where retailers could open stores, from the town and city of Newburgh in the east to Port Jervis in the west. Other municipalities in the county that were required to license dispensaries were Wawayanda, Tuxedo, the town of Warwick and the village of Woodbury.
Municipalities in Orange County were much more conservative in their exit decisions than their counterparts in neighboring counties and the state as a whole.
According to Rockefeller Institute records, only five of Sullivan County’s 21 towns and villages – Callicoon, Cochecton, Highland, Lumberland and Neversink – had withdrawn from dispensaries and consumption sites. Another city, Mamakating, had proposed to ban consumption sites, but voters overturned the city council’s decision by 1,078-741 votes in a referendum on November 2.
Opt-outs were even rarer in Ulster County. Only four of its 24 municipalities – the towns of Gardiner Ulster, Kingston and Esopus – had voted to block consumption sites, and Esopus had also withdrawn from dispensaries. The rest is open to both types of businesses.
Statewide, 588 of 1,518 municipalities, or 39%, had blocked dispensaries, while 670, or 44%, had banned consumption sites, according to the Rockefeller Institute. Some of those counts could rise slightly after the board votes in December, including a few from Orange who were due to step down.
Cornwall-on-Hudson Mayor James Gagliano, whose village board was due to withdraw from dispensaries and consumption sites on December 20, said the move seemed appropriate for a dormitory community with a small center -ville, and in accordance with the current of its residents. views. He recognized these attitudes and village politics could change.
“We have made the calculated decision that we can opt at any time if opinions change, if facts change,” he said.
A spokesperson for the newly formed state’s Office of Cannabis Management predicted that some communities that have opted out will do so after the market for adult use begins.
“It’s no surprise that they acted before the deadline, and we expect some to choose to fully join the market as we build a new, safe and regulated cannabis industry that protects public health and creates opportunities, ”spokesman Freeman Klopott said.
Municipalities that end up hosting dispensaries or consumption sites should collect most of the 4% tax New York will collect on the sale of cannabis products. State law entitles host municipalities to 75% of revenue and leaves the remaining 25% to host county.
It’s unclear how many dispensaries and consumption sites may eventually open in New York City. The state currently has 38 dispensaries selling similar cannabis products for medical use, a much smaller market than that intended for recreational use.
The Hudson Valley has seven medical dispensaries, some of which can apply for a second license to sell to anyone over the age of 21 if their cities have not switched to adult sales. The Etain dispensary in the town of Ulster and the Curaleaf dispensary in the town of Newburgh would face no withdrawal barriers. But The Botanist store in the town of Wallkill would, unless the town later backtracked on its ban.
The legalization law set out certain rules regarding dispensaries and consumption sites, while many other details will be spelled out in the regulations. The law states, for example, that cannabis consumption sites cannot sell alcohol as well and cannot be located within 500 feet of a school or 200 feet of a place of worship.
Some local leaders were reluctant to open the door for marijuana businesses until the regulations were written and the finer details were known.
“We have no idea how things are going to work out,” Barry Cheney, an administrator for the village of Warwick, said at a December 6 meeting before his board voted to ban sales of cannabis. He argued that it was prudent to step aside and reverse the decision later if necessary.
All three villages in the town of Warwick voted to withdraw, while the town council voted to allow dispensaries but not consumption sites in parts of the unincorporated areas of the town. City officials plan to share the revenue from the sale of cannabis with the villages of Warwick if shops eventually open in Warwick.
Like Mamakating in Sullivan, the town of Tuxedo held a referendum on November 2 on its board’s decision to ban consumer sites. Tuxedo voters narrowly confirmed the ban with a vote of 458-420.
One of the first communities in Orange County to act on the cannabis option was the village of Woodbury, which accepted a withdrawal proposal in June and quickly rejected it in a 3-2 vote.
Woodbury Mayor Tim Egan, who voted against the proposal, said in a recent interview that he saw no reason to pass a blanket ban on a state-authorized legal business, regardless of his own feelings. Subsequent approval of a specific Woodbury cannabis business would have to be decided through the usual review process with public input, he said.
“This is something that should be determined by a public hearing on a case-by-case basis,” he said.