Plattsburgh mayor bullish on prospects for retail pot sales

Local News

New York legalized recreational marijuana and retail pot sales at the end of March, but shops can’t open until regulations for them can be drawn up. That process is expected to take at least 18 months, if not two years.

Communities in the Empire State can opt out of the law before then, but Plattsburgh probably won’t do so. Mayor Chris Rosenquest is confident that retail cannabis sales will work in the Lake City.

“You know, locally and with the elected officials that I work with, there has been no notion or question about opting out,” he said. “We’ve had conversations with folks who are interested in retail endeavors. We’ve had conversations with people who are interested in the manufacturing — the growing and the manufacturing endeavor.”

It helps that Plattsburgh has had a medical marijuana dispensary since January 2016. Curaleaf, a Massachusetts-based company, has owned and operated it for the last three years.

“They’ve been successfully operating in the City of Plattsburgh with zero issues, and we’ll continue to facilitate and foster that kind of business growth,” Rosenquest said.

Curaleaf already sells recreational pot in some states that allow it, such as Illinois, Maine and Massachusetts. The company may well expand into the recreational sector in Plattsburgh if given the chance.

“But then again, we can’t forget the social justice component is a key piece to this as well, and it goes hand in hand for me,” the mayor said. The ACLU has found that, despite similar usage rates, black Americans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white Americans are.

There’s no way to know how many retail pot licensees Plattsburgh may eventually have, so Rosenquest said it would be premature to project how much tax benefit they’d provide the city. New York state, however, is projecting $350 million of additional state tax revenue per year.

Elsewhere in our region, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott chose last week the three members of the Cannabis Control Board, which will regulate the Green Mountain State’s marijuana market. The state Senate still has to approve their nominations.

Meanwhile, retail pot sales in New Hampshire may still be a long way away. The Granite State decriminalized marijuana possession in 2017, but it’s still a civil violation similar to a traffic ticket.

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