DELMAR — The Bethlehem Town Board is opening the floor to the public to weigh in on the topic of whether or not to allow cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption lounges in town when it next meets Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 6 p.m.
Albany opened the doors to recreational marijuana use, and a new commercial market to support it. But, state legislators also allowed each municipality to decide for themselves if they want to permit dispensaries or on-site consumption lounges in their towns, or disallow them altogether.
The legalization of adult-use cannabis is an enormous public policy shift so the regulatory framework is expected to take time before it is fully developed. The Office of Cannabis Management will need to draft and issue regulations to implement the law in order for adult-use sales to begin. However, while there are currently no stores open to purchase adult-use cannabis, the possession and use of cannabis for adults 21 years of age and older in accordance with the MRTA, is now legal.
Municipalities weighing the benefits to allow dispensaries and lounges will consider the taxable income it promises. A statewide 9 percent tax would be charged on all sales. Another 4 percent would be levied locally, with 3 percent going to the town in which the business resides while the other 1 percent goes to the respective county.
Unlike the tobacco license process Bethlehem introduced last year, the state will not allow for locally issued licenses. A new Office of Cannabis Management will issue licenses and develop regulations.
Colonie and Ballston Spa have each opted to allow for dispensaries, but chose to go without on-site consumption lounges. Whether Bethlehem decides to follow in similar fashion will happen after the Town Board listens to the public before passing a local law anticipated for December.