Guilderland to gauge public on marijuana shops

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Marijuana derivative Cannabidiol (CBD) has been legal and sold at places like the Altamont Fair for some time.

GUILDERLAND — The town of Guilderland wants residents to weigh in on weed. 

Embattled former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act of 2021 into law in March. 

With his signature, Cuomo made recreational marijuana use legal for people 21 and older in New York State — selling it will be permitted once regulations have been established.

Municipalities now have until Dec. 31 to opt out of allowing retail dispensaries or licenses for on-site consumption. Municipalities that allow sales will receive 3 percent of a point-of-sale retail tax.

“The default mechanism is we literally do nothing, and December 31 comes and goes; then we are allowing both the dispensary and the places where you can actually use marijuana to take place,” said Supervisor Peter Barber during the town board’s Aug. 17 meeting. 

Marijuana had been legalized in New York, so it’s no longer a question of being able to stop residents from buying it elsewhere and bringing it back into to town to smoke, Barber said, “and I don’t think that, on something like this, we could just go by [the] default measure; I think we should have a public hearing.” 

The town board did not set a public hearing at its Aug. 17 meeting; the earliest it could do so is its next meeting, on Sept. 21. 

Barber then pointed to Colonie’s recent marijuana legislation.

He explained that Colonie’s plan is to allow for dispensaries but not for on-site consumption.

Barber said Colonie proposed a law and then asked for resident feedback.

“I would rather have it: Let’s see what people have to say, and then we’ll decide how it should be developed,” Barber said.

If Guilderland were to allow dispensaries or for on-site consumption, the town board would have to decide before the end of the year where those sites would be allowed. 

The Colonie legislation only “opts-out of licensing and establishing cannabis on-site consumption establishments within its boundaries outside of the Villages of Colonie and Menands.” The same would be true for Guilderland and the village of Altamont, which would have to set its own course. 

The Colonie resolution to adopt the marijuana law was adjourned by its town board; the public hearing was kept open; and nothing else has happened since late July.


New state law

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act “is modeled in large part on the laws that currently regulate alcohol and tobacco,” according to the Drug Policy Alliance, a not-for-profit advocacy group

The new law allows for marjiuana to be smoked anywhere smoking tobacco is permitted, according to the New York State Association of Counties; “however, state agencies and localities can more strictly regulate smoking in public.”

The new legislation imposes a hybrid tax, according to the Marijuana Policy Project — on distributors for potency and consumers at the point-of-sale: The act “levies a tax on distributors at 0.5 cents per milligram of THC for flower; 0.8 cents per milligram of THC for concentrates; and 3 cents per milligram of THC for edibles.”

THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis.

The new state law imposes a point-of-sale retail tax of 9 percent for the state and 4-percent local tax — 1 percent is retained by the county and 3 percent goes to the town, city, or village.

 Each county “is responsible for distributing the 3-percent split to cities, towns, and villages based on the proportionate share of sales by dispensaries in each jurisdiction,” on a quarterly basis, according to NYSAC

Municipalities cannot prohibit a person from growing marijuana for personal use — they can, however, “reasonably regulate personal cultivation of cannabis provided that a violation of any regulation approved by a county, town, city, or village constitutes no more than an infraction and can be punishable by no more than a discretionary civil penalty of $200 or less,” according to the New York State Association of Counties.

People 21 or older are allowed three mature and three immature  marijuana plants, with households with more than one adult allowed a maximum of 12 plants — six mature plants and six immature plants.

New Yorkers can have up to five pounds of marijuana in their homes.

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