Saugerties supervisor feels Town should opt in to legal marijuana market

Saugerties Town Supervisor Fred Costello says he feels the Town should consider moving forward to opt in to the new market for legal marijuana.

Costello said at Wednesday’s Town Board meeting that he understands there are also concerns and he recommends attending a town hall-style meeting regarding cannabis on Monday, October 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Kiwanis Ice Arena at 6 Small World Avenue. He said the panel that evening will feature cannabis industry leaders, including a Saugerties native that now works for a national marijuana firm and another that’s come out of the medical side of the marijuana trade.

He said marijuana can offer medical benefits including relaxation and helping people undergoing chemotherapy with appetite problems.

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The forum will also be intriguing for anyone against it, he said. “It will make for better dialogue moving forward.”

Possession of marijuana was legalized by New York State in April. The law allows adults over 21 to possess up to three ounces, but there are still no legal places to buy it.

He said he feels the Town should move forward to opt-in, but he wants to see the Town go beyond the state law with regulations regarding any potential marijuana businesses in the town.

“We want to make sure any shops are in business areas, it’s done openly and we will identify that underage folks are not getting access. It’s our responsibility to figure out how it should look.”
Regulations would include expanded setbacks away from schools or religious institutions, he said. Costello added that while some have expressed concerns about marijuana being a gateway drug to opioids, many studies have shown that’s not the case. “A lot of data disputes that.”

Bringing marijuana into an open, regulated legal market would help reduce issues of unscrupulous folks lacing marijuana cigarettes with dangerous opioids. “Having a lawful retail market in the community is a good idea,” the supervisor said.

He sees an opportunity for the Town to bring in new revenue associated with the sale of marijuana.  “We’re trying to do it in a thoughtful and sensitive way.”