Schenectady fielding curiosity in hashish dispensaries

Officials from the state agency spearheading the industry’s set up briefed Schenectady City Council on Monday on the next steps to apply for a license, which will be delved into more at Wednesday’s stakeholders’ meeting. And judging from initial turnout, there is interest in opening such businesses in the Electric City.

State regulators in March authorized rules that would give business owners with documented marijuana offenses, including family members convicted of cannabis-related offenses, the first dibs on opening retail dispensaries through four-year conditional licenses.

Applicants must prove that they are successful business owners, which is determined by demonstrating the business had a net profit for at least two years. The rules, which are subject to a public comment period, also require showing that an applicant is “justice-involved.”

“There’s certain things you can be doing to position yourself when the applications come out,” said Philip Rumsey, manager of intergovernmental outreach for the Office of Cannabis Management. “It’s an opportunity for us to establish the relationship.”

The city opted-in to sale of cannabis last year, including on-site consumption lounges. 

Rumsey was met with roughly a half-dozen prospective applicants who listened to the brief presentation at Monday’s City Council meeting. 

Aria Priest, 35, of Schenectady, said she was interested in applying for a conditional license.

“We just want to come to see what it’s about, and more importantly, how we can get involved,” Priest said.

The law says implementation of an equity plan should promote applicants from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.

Walter Simpkins, executive director of Community Fathers, Inc., said he liked the sound of that.

“I like the social equity angle,” Simpkins said. “This is the first way to help communities.” 

While state regulations first rolled out in March reserve the first 100 to 200 retail licenses for New Yorkers who have a past marijuana conviction, they must also demonstrate previous successful business acumen. The public comment period closed May 31. 

The dispensaries, said a state official on Monday, are ‘turnkey operations.”

“They’re giving you a business and you are to run the business using loans, etc.,” the official said.

The conditional licenses, one of nine state license types under consideration, would be valid for four years. Some tax revenues would flow back into the county, Rumsey said. Of 4 percent of the local excise tax, 3 percent would go to the city or locality, with 1 percent to the county.

Officials on Monday said the state is considering taxes on THC content — not weight, which is a departure from other states.

Additional taxes will be disbursed into the Cannabis Revenue Fund, which will be used to bankroll investments in education and grants for community reinvestment.

Guidelines for the proposed dispensary licenses need to go through a public comment period before the Office of Cannabis Management can propose an applicant to the board.

The State Office of Cannabis Management will hold a community conversation focused on the Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary License opportunities Wednesday, June 8 from 6 p.m to 8 p.m at the main branch of the Schenectady County Public Library.

See More

The state aims to open the first dispensaries by December.