Will New Hartford., NY. allow the sale of recreational marijuana?

Paper & Leaf Hemp Company in the New Hartford Shopping Center is seeking to become a full marijuana dispensary as soon as it is possible, according to the recreational marijuana law passed in Albany in March. 

The company, owned by Shane Carter and Dave Keller, launched May 28, with a grand opening attended by the New Hartford Chamber of Commerce on July 10.  

Paper & Leaf originally started out with liquids and CBD products. Now, the store also sells Delta 8 and Delta 10 cannabis products — scientific labels for the type of cannabis sold. 

Currently, Delta 8 and Delta 10 compounds can be sold and used recreationally in New York. 

Delta 9 is the main compound in cannabis that gets people high, and Paper & Leaf is planning to sell Delta 9 once it becomes legal to do so. 

Paper & Leaf anticipates more direction from Albany this winter, with a potential turn to a dispensary in the spring. Legal marijuana sales at licensed dispensaries and on-site consumption spaces may begin April 1, 2022, at the earliest, but much needs to happen at the state level before then. 

While Paper & Leaf is positioning itself to become a full marijuana dispensary, the Village of New Hartford, where the company is located, is currently researching if it even wants to allow dispensaries within its borders. 

“We’re trying to figure that out,” New Hartford Mayor Donald Ryan said, noting the village is currently in the information gathering stage. “There’s a lot to it. Just because they pass a law doesn’t mean it’s perfect.” 

Legalized recreational use  

The state’s new recreational marijuana law, approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers in late March, immediately allowed those older than 21 to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and consume it nearly anywhere cigarettes can be legally consumed. 

More: NY lawmakers legalize recreational marijuana. What to know, what happens next

Local governments must decide whether to allow legal marijuana sales within their borders by Dec. 31. If they miss the deadline, they forfeit their right to opt out. County leaders are not allowed to make the decision unilaterally for the municipalities within its borders. 

However, opting out means forfeiting potential revenue, since the only way local governments can get tax money from marijuana is from legal sales within their jurisdiction.  

Under the new state law, legal marijuana sales can occur at state-licensed dispensaries and “on-premises consumption sites,” which will essentially be lounges where people can consume cannabis on site. 

Retail sales will be taxed at 13%, with 9% going to the state. The remaining 4% goes to the local government where the sale took place — 3% to the city, town or village and 1% to the county. 

Medical marijuana 

Like the village, the Town of New Hartford is currently processing information on whether to opt in in or out when it comes to recreational marijuana. 

Unlike the village however, the Town of New Hartford has had a medical marijuana dispensary on Commercial Drive for the last several years. 

Town Supervisor Paul Miscione said there have been “no issues” with the dispensary since it opened in January 2019. 

The medical marijuana dispensary on Commercial Drive, now known as Sunnyside, is the only one in Oneida County. It offers home deliveries of vape pens and cartridges, topical creams, oral tinctures and capsules to the surrounding area, along with purchases within the facility.  

Miscione said he would like to see a county-wide committee formed to see which municipalities opt in or out. He said it made no sense for the town to opt in or out without knowing what neighboring municipalities are doing. 

“I think it has to be a county-wide decision,” Miscione said. 

Should the town eventually allow recreational marijuana dispensaries, Miscione said he would like to see them stay in the town’s larger areas, such as Commercial Drive. 

County thoughts 

Echoing similar thoughts as Miscione, Onieda County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. said he would like to convene a meeting with local governments to get a sense of what they are thinking. 

“I have not heard from anyone specifically as to what their intentions are,” Picente said. 

Picente, who is against the legalization of marijuana, calling it a gateway drug, likened the installation of recreational marijuana use to that of the recent fireworks usage law that was spread out across the state. 

Here, each municipality was left to make its own decisions, Picente said. 

Picente further questioned the timing of the legalization, with municipalities still dealing with the pandemic.  

He also questioned what may become of legalization given Cuomo’s current embattled status as he is currently facing resignation calls due to sexual harassment allegations. 

Ed Harris is the Oneida County reporter for the Observer-Dispatch. Email Ed Harris at EHarris1@gannett.com.

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