Town of Ulster to decide if weed consumption is OK

Officials in the Town of Ulster this week are expected to opt-out of allowing on-site marijuana consumption businesses to operate in the town, but could allow retail recreational marijuana sales in specifically designated areas. 

A pair of resolutions relating to the town’s response to the statewide adoption earlier this year of the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act were presented but not voted on during a Town Board meeting held on Thursday, November 4. The Board is expected to vote on the pair of resolutions at their meeting on Thursday, November 18, though no agenda was available as of press time. 

The issue was first discussed by councilmen during a Town Board meeting held on Thursday, September 2. Town Attorney Jason Kovacs explained that while the New York State Cannabis Board will issue a range of licenses for cultivators, processors and distributors of legal marijuana, municipalities like Ulster have greater local control over retail dispensaries and on-site consumption businesses. Local governments have until December 31 to opt out. 


“If the town doesn’t take any action by the end of this year and pass a local law opting out of the scheme, the cannabis control board will or may issue licenses for those two types of entities in the Town of Ulster,” Kovacs said in September. 

Kovacs added that opting out would cause the town to forfeit potential sales tax revenue from businesses established within Ulster; the state law includes a 13 percent sales tax on marijuana sales, with four percent split between the county and municipality. He added that not opting out wouldn’t mean the town was powerless about how and where marijuana businesses could exist there. 

“Any applicant before the Cannabis Control Board for either the retail dispensary license or the consumption license, they have to notify the town clerk at least 30 days before they applied to the state,” Kovacs said. “It’s very similar to the liquor license application. So the town can give the Cannabis Control Board comments on whether they think the license location is proper, whether it’s a good place, et cetera…”

During the Town Board meeting held earlier this month, Town Supervisor James E. Quigley, III specified that the resolution allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries would include a zoning amendment allowing sales in the Regional Commercial (R.C.) and Highway Commercial (H.C.) districts. 

“That would mean Ulster Avenue from the city of Kingston line to the Saugerties line and Route 28 from the Thruway to the Town of Kingston line,” Quigley said. “Those are the two regions within the town where it would be permitted for retail distribution of marijuana.”

The second resolution if adopted would disallow on-site marijuana consumption businesses to operate within the Town of Ulster. According to the state law, municipalities who opt out have the choice of opting in in the future; those who don’t would not be allowed to opt out at a later date. 

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