Saugerties opts out of cannabis commerce
William J. Kemble reports in the Daily Freeman that Saugerties town board members Leeanne Thornton, Peg Nau, and Michael Ivino voted Dec. 29 to not accept the tax dollars that come with allowing cannabis stores and lounges. Fred Costello and John Schoonmaker voted to allow retail sales in Saugerties, with Costello the only board member voting for consumption loungers. That vote came after a two-hour public hearing with comments both in favor, and against, cannabis commerce in Saugeeties. Cannabis is currently allowed in Saugerties and the rest of the state after lawmakers changed the law in April. Municipalities have until Dec. 31 to opt out of retail sales and consumption lounges, and the tax dollars that come with the businesses. Ivino challenged local residents to break the law. “I encourage anybody who wants (to not opt out) to get in their car and drive home without the lights on because that’s what New York’s doing to us right now by having us opt in or out,” he said. Schoonmaker lamented the lost income for the community. “Kingston, Ulster, Catskill, Woodstock they’re all going to have these stores so I’ll just be driving there and back,” he said. “So what difference does it make if we have them or not. At least this was our town can benefit from these instead of me driving to Catskill, buying my product there, and then I’ll probably just out and eat in Catskill.” The board decision could be challenged by Feb. 12 with a petition containing at least 881 signatures asking for a public referendum. And the town board could also vote again in the future to reverse the decision. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.