Hashish In The Adirondacks: A Pure Financial Excessive?

Some cannabis boosters say visitors and natural amenities make a village like Lake Placid a prime location for marijuana tourism. The village, like others around the Adirondacks, has yet to decide how to deal with New York State legalizing the drug. Photo by Kris Parker

While cities are considering opting out, some say the park is perfect for marijuana tourism

By Janet Reynolds

Cannabis advocates may have danced a happy dance on March 31st as New York State became the 16th state to legalize adult recreational cannabis use, but so far Adirondack Park city officials have taken a wait and see approach.

The governor’s office predicts the adult cannabis market, when due, could hit $ 4 billion nationwide and generate up to $ 350 million in tax revenue annually. The Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) sets the local excise tax on the sale of cannabis products at 4% of the product price. Counties would receive 25% of local retail tax revenue, while 75% would go to each community with a pharmacy.

While the potential tax revenue for a region struggling to attract commercial ventures sounds enticing, city officials contacted for this article generally said it was too early to say whether their city would be ready to launch a cannabis plant. House retail pharmacy.

“We’re not sure there is a pharmacy,” says Lake Placid Deputy Mayor Pete Holdereid. “What if it causes more law enforcement problems? If people think they have a right to get stoned, like alcohol, the more you smoke, the more stupid you get. “

By law, each city has until December 31st to opt out of having a local pharmacy or license to use something like a spa that uses cannabis products in their community. Municipalities cannot oppose legalization of adult use. In other words, city officials cannot prevent people from using cannabis in their cities.

Marijuana candies, brownies, joints and leaves.Legalization in other states has resulted in a wide variety of products that studies have shown can attract a significant percentage of Americans to visit. New York communities have until the end of the year to decide whether to decline and decline recreational pharmacies. iStock photo

To some extent, this wait-and-see approach is driven by the fact that the MRTA regulations are still in the works. The statutory Office of Cannabis Management will regulate recreational and existing medical marijuana programs. The office is overseen by a five-person Cannabis Control Board. Three members of this body are appointed by the governor, while the Senate and the Assembly each appoint one member. An advisory board of 13 members – six appointed by the legislature and seven by the governor – will provide additional guidance. The adult retail sales are expected to likely not happen in the next 18 months.

The Cannabis Control Board will determine the appropriate number and location of adult dispensaries. How many of these will end up in Adirondack Park remains to be seen. Currently, Curaleaf, one of the largest cannabis companies in the world, has a medical dispensary in Plattsburgh. The company is keen to expand its presence in New York State, but the exact locations are unknown, according to Patrik Jonsson, regional president of the Northeast. Jonsson heads the company’s operations in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.

“We believe that New York will be one of the top five or three (cannabis use) states in the country for population and tourism. And not just for New York City, but also for other parts of New York, ”says Jonsson.

“We estimate the industry will create 20,000-30,000 jobs,” he adds, pointing out that this number does not include any support or ancillary services that can provide additional employment opportunities. “We saw that in other states as well. There are many options everywhere. “

The social and economic justice program built into the new law could help the park, at least in part. The program aims to help individuals disproportionately affected by cannabis enforcement and aims to have 50% of licenses go to minority or women’s businesses, as well as to farmers in need or veterans with disabilities.

Chestertown residents already know the potential economic benefits of having a cannabis business in the city. Etain, one of ten medical marijuana growers and processors in New York, has employed 30 people in its cultivation and manufacturing facility for several years. Now the company plans to add a greenhouse and warehouse to its Chestertown manufacturing facility. City overseer Craig Leggett calls the expansion welcome news. “We are a mature community,” he says, pointing out that Etain plans to add 15 more full-time employees as the company expands. “There isn’t much job growth. With a small rural population where a large employer would have 12 employees, that’s very good. “

However, Leggett understands why some town officials and park residents are reluctant to host a pharmacy or an on-site consumption point like a spa. “There are always concerns about having a cannabis dispensary in town. Who would come? “He says.” You don’t want to encourage bad behavior or drug overuse because they are so readily available. “

Jim McKenna from ROOST.Photo by Mike Lynch

“I don’t think we’re going to start a marijuana campaign for the Adirondacks.”

Jim McKenna, Regional Sustainable Tourism Office

Yet the need to fill the empty Main Street storefronts that plague so many Adirondack cities remains a park-wide concern. “If you look at our inner cities, there are so many empty shop fronts. Every church has that, ”says Leggett.

However, the discussion of adding a pharmacy is often a complicated discussion in the community. “What’s next to the pharmacy? A tattoo parlor or a souvenir shop? ”Legget says. “These are the questions community people have and are worried about.”

As a former Colorado resident, Leggett has seen firsthand how pharmacies can be incorporated into a city. He visits a family who live in a town in Colorado the size of Glens Falls. “You can see how the pharmacies fit in,” he says. “They have enough commercial activity for the pharmacies to fit in.”

Regardless of which park cities choose to allow cannabis plants, the park is likely to get few pharmacies. The Cannabis Control Board will determine the appropriate number and placement of adult cannabis dispensaries. Criteria include population density and equity concerns under the law.

ROOST’s Jim McKenna believes the stock program could help the ADKs. “It could offer opportunities for real diversity for our region,” he says.

A more likely way for Adirondack Park to benefit from cannabis legalization is through tourism. Tourism brings in $ 2 billion annually, according to McKenna.

A look at Colorado, which legalized cannabis in 2012, shows the park’s potential. Like the Adirondacks, Colorado is a mecca for outdoor activities. According to a study, an additional 120,000 hotel rooms were rented every month as soon as tourists in Colorado could legally buy marijuana.

“Cannabis promotes creativity and communication. It can complement experiences, ”said Brian Applegarth, Founder of the Cannabis Travel Association International. “This is how I see cannabis expanding in the travel sector.”

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Studies show that cannabis-motivated travelers make up 29% of the active travel audience in the United States. “These people are motivated by the ability to find cannabis-related activities,” says Applegarth, noting that they are luxury travelers, food and wine lovers, and outdoor activity enthusiasts. “If you look at the top descriptions from these travelers, you can see the appetite to be in nature while consuming or experiencing cannabis,” says Applegarth. “That speaks for the potential of the park.”

“Nature is the best combination for cannabis because nature is pure and natural and authentic,” he adds. “The way cannabis improves nature is a heavenly addition.”

Maybe so, but in the meantime, McKenna and other officials need more information. “I don’t think we’re going to start a marijuana campaign for the Adirondacks,” McKenna says. “I don’t see that in our future at this point in time.”