Rensselaerville to consider pot opt-in; no action on gun club

RENSSELAERVILLE — The Rensselaerville Town Board intends to hold a public hearing sometime soon on marijuana dispensaries, which are currently prohibited from the town due to the board’s decision to opt out of New York State’s legalization law. 

But the board’s decision to entertain broad permission for dispensaries does not reflect any desire on its part to see dispensaries in the town, so much as it does the low risk of having to deal with any even if the town opts in. 

Supervisor John Dolce said at the July 13 board meeting that “many citizens feel we’re holding them back” by disallowing dispensaries across the board, despite the fact that current state regulations make it virtually impossible for a dispensary to open in Rensselaerville. 

Right now, only people who are “justice-involved” (meaning they or a family member have been convicted of a marijuana-related offense) are allowed to open a dispensary as the state attempts to make up for what are now widely seen as unfair incarcerations during the war on drugs. 

Applicants must also have at least two years of business experience, which further restricts the number of eligible applicants. 

On top of that, the state gives out only a certain number of licenses per region. In the Capital Region, which has more than 1.1 million residents, the state will hand out just seven licenses, according to the Office of Cannabis Management. 

“That’s why I’d rather just opt in, and be done,” Dolce said. “If anyone wants to fight to get the dispensary, God bless them. The town’s not going to hold them back.”

Knox and Berne both went along with the state law allowing dispensaries with little consequence so far. Westerlo, however, had opted out, with the town board expressing a strong anti-drug sentiment and fear about how dispensaries may affect the character of the town. 

But local regulations will only do so much to keep marijuana at bay, with Dolce explaining that there’s a growing facility in the town that did not need to get town approval to operate once it met the state and federal standards.

Growers have to go through an approval process and, so far, have been disappointed since they have had trouble unloading their product because of the state’s slow roll-out of dispensaries.

On Wednesday, however, the Office of Cannabis Management Control Board agreed that three or more growers can join with a retailer in what the board is calling a “Cannabis Growers Showcase” at non-storefront locations and during events so the growers can connect with consumers.

With no argument from any of its members, the board agreed, informally, that it would hold a public hearing on an opt-in law at a later date. 


Gun club

Dolce also updated board members on the meeting that took place last month between members of the Rensselaerville Rod and Gun Club and residents who are upset by the level of noise created by the shooting there, which has increased ever since the club started hosting a student firearm team. 

“We really didn’t get anywhere,” Dolce said. 

This is in line with what The Enterprise heard from club President Robert Tanner and concerned resident Sue Britton shortly after the meeting was held. 

Britton told The Enterprise that solutions the gun club had agreed to — like closing the range on Sunday morning, capping membership, and planting trees around the property line — don’t do enough to address the noise. 

The club’s vice president, Scott Wank, told the town board that a sound study found the club’s levels to be below the thresholds set by the state’s noise ordinance, which hold authority in the absence of a local law. 

Because no laws are being broken, and because there’s no interest apparent among the board in crafting a local noise ordinance, Dolce said it’s “absolutely our stance” that it’s a matter to be resolved “between neighbors.” 

Nevertheless, he said he’s expecting a letter from the Rod and Gun Club outlining what steps it is willing to take to address the problem. 

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