SARANAC LAKE — The Harrietstown Town Council will hold a public hearing on potentially opting in to allow retail cannabis businesses within its boundaries later this month.
After initially opting out of allowing cannabis shops in 2021, town councilors have indicated that they’d like to get a slice of the tax revenue the businesses would generate as an additional revenue source.
The public hearing to repeal a previous law opting out of cannabis businesses will be held on Nov. 30 at 5:30 p.m. before the regular meeting in the town board room in the basement of the town hall. This meeting will also be livestreamed on Zoom at tinyurl.com/5bpntm8c. Those interested in viewing can also use the meeting ID 849 5204 3140 and passcode 313222.
When the selling of recreational cannabis was legalized in New York in 2021, local governments had a one-time option to opt out of allowing dispensaries and consumption lounges within their borders, with the option to reverse this decision at a later date. Local governments were automatically opted in otherwise.
The Harrietstown Council chose to opt out, with councilors saying at the time that they wanted to wait for state regulations to be finalized before making a decision, since that was their only chance to opt out and the decision could easily be reversed at a later date.
The village of Saranac Lake remains opted in. Since the village is inside the town and houses the majority of the town’s businesses, cannabis sales are already allowed in a large portion of the town. Opting in now would allow the town to get a piece of that tax revenue and allow dispensaries to open in the parts of town outside of village boundaries.
“An additional revenue source would be put to good use,” Town Supervisor Jordanna Mallach said.
But it would likely be a while before the town could begin collecting tax revenue on cannabis sales. Mostly because no dispensaries are licensed yet.
The Elevate ADK cannabis shop in the Saranac Lake Plaza on Lake Flower Avenue is open but located in the town of North Elba, not Harrietstown.
A planned cannabis cultivation and retail store on the corner of Ampersand Avenue and Broadway, Alpine Agronomy, is in Harrietstown. But the license for its owner to start growing and selling there has not been issued yet.
Under the state law, every cannabis sale is taxed at 13% on three levels — 9% to the state, 3% to the local government where the sale took place and 1% to the county where that local government is located.
The local level includes both towns and villages. So if a Saranac Lake-based dispensary in Harrietstown starts making sales and the town opts in, those taxes would be split 50-50 between the town and village, with each getting 1.5% of the total sale price. If a dispensary opened in Harrietstown outside the village lines, the town would be dealt the full 3% tax on each sale.
Some councilmembers have previously voiced an interest in also allowing cannabis consumption lounges. This would require passing a second law.