Catskill village says yes to pot lounges as town says no

CATSKILL – Marijuana parlors are on the table for the village of Catskill after the village’s board of directors voted Wednesday against refusing to allow them within its borders.

That same night, the surrounding town of Catskill, which includes the communities of Leeds and Palenville, voted not to allow lounges.

Recreational marijuana was legalized in New York City last March, and municipalities have until the end of the year to decide not to allow dispensaries or “marijuana consumption sites” – salons – within their borders. If a municipality takes no action, both are allowed.

In the village, board chairman Peter Grasse and administrator Jeff Holliday voted against allowing pot lounges, while administrators Joseph Kozloski and Natasha Law voted against. The split vote meant that the withdrawal measure was not adopted.

Back and forth during the public hearing directly preceding the vote, Holliday and Grasse expressed reservations about allowing village lounges without knowing the rules that would govern them.

“The state did not give us a rulebook,” said Grasse.

The state Cannabis Control Board, responsible for setting regulations for recreational cannabis, has yet to release any. City leaders from Greene County communities in Windham, Hunter and Cairo, who all voted against allowing dispensaries or salons, also spoke of the lack of regulations during the vote.

Administrator Natasha Law said the village would have some control over the salons and would be able to establish guidelines either through zoning or through the village planning board.

Several residents at the public hearing cited the success of Great Barrington, Mass., Which raised $ 6.7 million in marijuana revenue between the opening of its first dispensary in 2019 and September, according to the Berkshire Eagle.

Any comparison with Great Barrington was “apples for oranges,” Holliday said, because the tax structures of the two states were different.

In Massachusetts, municipalities with dispensaries charge a 3% sales tax and have the option of levying an additional 3% “community impact fee”, while in New York, municipalities with salons or salons. Dispensaries would receive a portion of an excise tax collected by the state amounting to 3 percent of all sales.

However, since the village of Catskill is located within the town of Catskill, taxes levied on a village lounge would be shared with the town, meaning the village would collect $ 15,000 out of $ 1 million in sales, Holliday said. .

During the public hearing, it was learned that the town of Catskill had just voted to withdraw from the salons. That means the village would collect the full 3% tax if a salon decided to move there, according to Holliday.

About 40 people attended the village hearing and voting, although not all were residents. Of those who spoke, all but one were in favor of the shows, with most saying even a small amount of tax revenue would benefit the community. The poverty rate in the village of Catskill is 35.5 percent, according to the census, almost triple the state average.

The board also received letters from nine business owners who have supported the creation of salons, Law said.

Dispensaries will be authorized both in the city and in the village. The city voted not to withdraw from dispensaries when it voted to withdraw from salons. The village only voted on whether to opt out of the salons, which means that dispensaries are automatically allowed.

Of New York State’s 1,517 municipalities, 619 voted to withdraw from dispensaries, while 704 voted to withdraw from salons, according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

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