KINDERHOOK—The villages of Kinderhook and Valatie are working with the Town of Kinderhook to form a committee looking into the new law legalizing adult use and sale of cannabis in the state. Both village mayors announced at their board meetings last week that they are looking for volunteers to sit on the local cannabis committee.
In March, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). According to the state the legislation establishes a licensing system and two new state agencies: the Cannabis Control Board, and the Office of Cannabis Management.
According to the website of the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), the state’s marijuana act “creates a heavily regulated market requiring individuals and organizations to obtain a license before engaging in any of the myriad types of authorized cannabis businesses, including cultivating, processing, distributing, delivering, dispensing cannabis, or operating a cooperative, microbusiness, nursery, or on‐site consumption establishment.”
NYCOM’s website also says, “While the MRTA legalizes the possession and use of cannabis immediately, the actual sale of adult‐use cannabis is not expected to begin until late 2022 or early 2023.”
The law also allows municipalities to pass local laws opting out of allowing retail cannabis dispensaries and/or on-site cannabis consumption establishments from locating within a municipality.
Valatie Mayor Frank Bevens said at his board meeting on August 10 that he is planning to have a public hearing on the issue. He also said that the “tax revenue is huge.” The village would receive about 75% of the tax revenue from sales, according to the state. Mayor Bevens also expects that allowing a dispensary in the village would increase traffic.
‘It’s on our radar.’
Mayor John Howe
Village of Chatham
Mayor Dale Leiser of Kinderhook mentioned the committee, saying that he, Mayor Bevens and Town Supervisor Patsy Leader would be on the committee with one representative from each village and the town, for a total of six members. He said that Kinderhook Village residents interested in sitting on the committee should email Supervisor Leader at firstname.lastname@example.org
At his board meeting on Wednesday, August 11, Mayor Leiser talked about working with the neighboring village since both villages are so close to each other. The villages are both in the Town of Kinderhook.
According to the new law, “if a town and a village within the town both allow adult-use sales, the revenue shall be distributed based on agreed upon distribution agreement between the town and village. If no such agreement exists, then the revenue distribution between the town and village will be divided evenly.”
The new law gives municipalities until December 31 to decide if they want to opt out of allowing dispensaries and on-site consumption licenses for businesses. If a municipality does not opt-out by December, the municipality will be unable to opt-out at a future date. However, a municipality may opt back in, to allow either, or both, adult-use retail dispensary or on-site consumption license types by repealing the local law which established the prohibition. Not opting out means that a municipality is opted in.
At the Village of Chatham board meeting August 9, Mayor John Howe said, “It’s on our radar.” He said he went to an online training session on the issue at NYCOM and called it a “fluid” situation. He said personally “I’m not opposed” to the new law.
The Village of Chatham is in both the towns of Ghent and Chatham, and Mayor Howe said that even if the towns opt out they will still get some revenue if the village allows dispensaries.
Village resident and former Village Board member Lael Locke said that she has spent a lot of time in Great Barrington, MA, where there are dispensaries and said the traffic increased after they opened. She said if the board allows a dispensary on Main Street the traffic would “shut our community down.”
As part of the law, the state says, “towns, cities and villages may pass local laws and regulations governing the time, place and manner of the operation of licensed adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries and/or on-site consumption site, provided such law or regulation does not make the operation of such licensed retail dispensaries or on-site consumption sites unreasonably impracticable as determined by the board”
If one of the village boards chooses to opt out, this law would be subject to permissive referendum, which means in a village the residents could submit a petition being filed with the village clerk and with signatures from at least 20% of the registered electors in the previous general village election, or by the board of trustees adopting a resolution submitting the local law to a referendum of the voters for their approval.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email email@example.com