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Tarrytown to Allow Cannabis Dispensaries (But Not Lounges) to Set Up Shop

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December 2, 2021

By Rick Pezzullo—

The Tarrytown Board of Trustees has informally decided to join neighboring Sleepy Hollow in welcoming cannabis dispensaries–but maybe not consumption lounges.

During a Dec. 1 work session, the six current board members in attendance, as well as two incoming trustees who were present, expressed support for opting into at least half of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which was enacted in New York State on March 31.

  • LOOK Cinemas Dobbs Ferry
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That law legalized recreational marijuana and also opened the door for retail cannabis dispensaries and consumption sites to set up shop in all communities.

Each municipality has until December 31 to adopt a local law that prohibits such businesses, which is referred to as opting out of the regulations. If no action is taken, municipalities are automatically opted in, but they can pass legislation that governs the hours and locations of the businesses.

If a municipality opts in, it can’t reverse course. However, if a municipality opts out, officials can later change their mind, according to the current guidelines, which will be overseen by the Office of Cannabis Management.

Mayor-elect Karen Brown, who will be officially sworn-in on Dec. 6, told her fellow trustees once Sleepy Hollow decided to opt-in to both dispensaries and lounges it made it easier for Tarrytown officials to at least embrace dispensaries.

“We can’t separate ourselves from Sleepy Hollow. It’s almost pointless to opt out of something that will be going through our borders any way,” she said. “I don’t think we should be opting out of economic opportunities. It’s not just about the money. It puts Tarrytown on the map as a place that is progressive and open for business.”

Outgoing Mayor Tom Butler and Trustee Becky McGovern agreed with Brown on the dispensaries.

“It makes no sense not to opt-in to dispensaries,” Butler remarked.

“You’ve got to be in it to win it,” McGovern added.

Any tax revenues on local sales of marijuana and other products would be distributed as a 9% excise tax to the state, 3% to the municipality and 1% to the county. Tax collections from the adult-use cannabis program are projected to reach $350 million annually. Reportedly, more than 100 jurisdictions in New York State have voted to opt out, including adjoining villages Ardsley, Irvington and Dobbs Ferry.

During a forum in Tarrytown in September, Wade Beltramo, General Counsel to the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (NYCOM), explained the law was first introduced in 2013.

“This was not a law that just got sprung on people,” he said, adding the key components behind it were to create a regulated and taxed cannabis industry and provide social and economic justice related to the sale and use of marijuana.

The Board of Trustees is not in lockstep, however, on cannabis lounges. The board is scheduled to vote on a resolution on Dec. 6 scheduling a public hearing for Dec. 20 to opt-out of permitting consumption sites.

At the Dec. 1 work session, Brown. McGovern and Trustee Robert Hoyt all said they were opposed to lounges. Trustees David Kim and Paul Rinaldi indicated they were in favor of lounges, leaving the deciding votes up to newly elected Trustee Effie Phillips-Staley and Thomas Mitchell, who is apparently slated to be appointed Monday to fill Brown’s vacant seat.

“I don’t see why we would opt out on either,” Rinaldi said. “The state will be very tight on regulations. We should just do nothing and see how things go.”

“I am not in favor of lounges,” Hoyt said. “I think they will be a nightmare to control.”

The MRTA limits the number of licenses that can be owned by one company, ensuring that small businesses have an opportunity to compete in the new market. Dispensaries and lounges are not expected to start popping up until late 2022 at the earliest.




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