Richland opts out while Pulaski opts in on marijuana

TOWN OF RICHLAND and VILLAGE OF PULASKI – As 2021 came to an end, an important deadline loomed before all New York state municipalities, the requirement that municipalities must choose whether to opt in or out of allowing the sale of marijuana and/or the consumption of it in designated “lounges’ within their boundaries by Dec. 31. To do nothing was to automatically opt in, thereby allowing dispensaries for the sale and lounges for the consumption within their cities, towns, villages, or hamlets. A municipality that chose to opt out has the right to opt in at a later date. But once a municipality opts in, it cannot opt out later.

Richland Town Supervisor Dan Krupke and Village of Pulaski Mayor Jan Tighe spoke on their municipality’s decisions.

“The cannabis legislation,” Krupke said, “we opted out. And the reason we opted out is because we’re waiting for the state to further the guidelines and regulations, and once they’re solidified, then we will bring it back to the table, and I expect that the board at that time will opt in. Meanwhile, we’re going to be looking at our planning and zoning guidelines and try to write some planning and zoning laws to be able to regulate it in a respectable manner that makes good sense, obviously location, distance from schools, churches, etc.”

Will Richland opt in for both dispensaries and lounges?

“I believe that we will opt in for all of the above,” Krupke said.

“The village did not opt out,” he noted. “So, the village of Pulaski can certainly open up dispensaries and lounges. Activity is more within the village than it is outside the village. So, we’ll be working with the village when they start to redo their zoning and such. We’ll be working with them, hopefully, drawing up proper zoning and planning to accommodate facilities.”

Near the very end of December, a resolution came before the Village of Pulaski board to opt out of the dispensary sale and consumption lounges within Pulaski’s borders. Village Mayor Jan Tighe explained what happened.

“There was a resolution to opt out, and it failed by a three to two vote,” Tighe said recently. “I did vote for opting out, and to me, it wasn’t saying no, it was saying, let’s wait and see. Obviously, we don’t have all the information. There’s obviously going to be more information coming from the state that municipalities don’t have yet. I think I can safely say that the other person who wanted us to opt out was saying not so much no, but let’s wait and see.”

Those who voted to opt in “never said why,” Tighe said.

“Robin Ford was the other person who wanted to opt out,” she said, “but the other three board members, Ryan McGrath, Jack Jennings, and Allen Engelbrekt were the ones that didn’t go along with it.

“It’s the end of the year, and that’s the decision we’re going to live with.”

One argument for opting in, not necessarily voiced by members of the Pulaski village board, was that there were businesses ready to set up shop, and if a municipality opted out, those businesses would just go elsewhere along with the tax revenue and jobs that would provide the municipality.

Tighe didn’t give that opinion the immediacy it seemed to imply.

“Nobody’s going to be able to open a business until they get a state license,” she said. “So, what the time frame is for that, I’m not sure, but I don’t think it’s going to be tomorrow.”

There’s also been conjecture a license may cost $100,000. Furthermore, as the legislation proposes, licenses will favor minority and women-owned businesses along with those who have been adversely affected by the harsh marijuana laws of the past.

“I’ve heard that figure,” Tighe said, “and I’ve also heard it’s going to be quite costly. It’s a work in progress. They’ve never done this before.”

Will Pulaski have to create new zoning in the village?

“Absolutely,” Tighe replied. “One thing the village has already done is, as soon as the law was passed, we passed a local law that there’s no smoking any substance on village property. And what we were targeting was the parks. We did that immediately. So, the signs are already up for that.

“I think there’s a provision in the law,” she continued, “where the local laws can be written that will expand on some of the parameters” regarding distance from a dispensary or lounge to a school. “That is something that is also in the law.

“So anyway, we are where we are, and we’ll just deal with what comes. That’s kind of the bottom line,” Tighe said. “We’re in.”

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