Ulster city reflects on cannabis dispensaries


The city of Ulster held a public hearing on October 21 on whether to allow on-site retail dispensaries and cannabis consumption salons within municipal boundaries following the adoption across the board. of the State’s Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act. Only four people spoke, all in favor of not withdrawing.

“Recent legislative changes in New York State allow the city to regulate and license distribution for retail outlets and also to regulate and permit public consumption in a salon,” said the City Supervisor James E. Quigley III at the October 21 public hearing. “City Council agrees that this is such an important decision that we need the public’s input. We haven’t decided where we want to go yet. We would like to hear from the citizens of the community on what they think about it. “

The issue was first discussed by city councilors at a city council meeting held on Thursday, September 2. Ulster has greater local control over dispensaries and on-site consumer businesses. Local governments have until December 31 to opt out, meaning not to allow such businesses within their boundaries.

“If the city takes no action by the end of this year and passes a local law to opt out of the program… the Cannabis Control Board will or may issue licenses for these two types of entities in the city of ‘Ulster,’ Kovacs said in September.

Kovacs added that opting out would result in the loss of potential sales tax revenue from businesses that may have been established in Ulster; State law includes a 13 percent sales tax on marijuana sales, four percent of which is split between the county and the municipality. He added that not stepping back would not mean the city was powerless as to how and where marijuana businesses might exist there.

“Any applicant before the Cannabis Control Board for the retail dispensary license or the consumer license, must notify the city clerk at least 30 days before submitting an application to the state,” said Kovacs. “It’s very similar to applying for a liquor license. So the city can give the Cannabis Control Board feedback on whether it thinks the location of the permit is appropriate, whether it’s a good location, and so on… ”

Ulster advisers did not express a preference at the September meeting, and they were also silent during the public hearing last week. But a member of the city’s zoning appeal board, Kevin Reginato, was among those who spoke out in favor of the membership, or at least not opting out of it. “I am here today to try to convince the council… not to refuse to authorize the cannabis distribution companies in the city of Ulster,” Reginato said. “I noticed when I walked into the sign that read ‘The Gateway to Hudson Valley Beauty and Business.’ Beauty is a given, especially this time of year with the foliage. But the business, I think we can do better. I think the increase in tax revenues and the potential for job growth and investment opportunities should be a strong incentive for this Council to be in favor of this (type of) business. “

Reginato cited a recent report by BDSA (formerly BDS Analytics, the National Cannabis Industry Association) that showed legal cannabis sales in 2020 hit a US record high of $ 17.5 billion, a 46% increase from compared to the previous year.

“This is all happening during a pandemic,” Reginato said. “This company has proven to be recession resistant.”

He added that legal retailers hijack the business of illegal cannabis sellers, hijacking them from underage users, much like a liquor store operates. He listed what he considered to be other benefits. “Cannabis is associated with reduced consumption of opiates by the general public,” Regniato said. “It’s a safer and smarter alternative to medicine. And the dispensary’s clientele tend to be older and appreciate specific varieties, like buying cigars or wine, things like that. It’s becoming a very sophisticated market and I encourage everyone on this board to really do their research and understand what’s going on with it.

City resident Laura Hartmann also spoke out in favor of not stepping down. “I think there is a lot of money, tax revenue that we can get that this city really needs,” Hartmann said. “Medical marijuana has transformed communities and is transforming people’s lives as well. “

Reginato also noted that other local municipalities could choose to participate and leave the city of Ulster out of the financial benefits. “I hate to see us lagging behind,” Reginato said. “Because it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen as is and if it doesn’t happen here, it’s going to happen in the town next door. This is my home, this is our home. It is important to grow the business, not to reject the business.

City officials will accept written public comments for 30 days after the public hearing and vote on whether or not to allow cannabis dispensaries and consumption salons before the December 31 deadline.

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