SAUGERTIES, New York – Residents who oppose proposed zoning amendments that would allow retail cannabis sales in industrial and commercial areas have expressed concerns to the city council.
The comments came during a meeting on Wednesday, November 17. Opponents asserted that domestic sales and public consumption would increase traffic risks.
“The effects of marijuana on cognition and coordination are responsible for serious impairments in learning, associative processes, and psychomotor behavior, implying leadership abilities,” said resident Susan Van Wagenen.
Several people added that concerns that existed about cannabis prior to its legalization have not been addressed.
“I’ve been in drug addiction maybe about 28 years,” said Gaetana Ciarlante, a resident of the area. “During that time, I’ve seen marijuana regularly reported as a gateway drug…to more drug use.”
Under the proposed amendments, hemp installations will be allowed in industrial areas, light industrial offices, public works, and express business areas.
Resident Vicki Dross wondered if there was a relationship between the increase in law enforcement costs, new drug abuse treatment centers, and a permissive attitude about pot smoking. “Is that the reason why we should pay more police salaries and more ambulance fees because now we’re going to have more drugs and people in trouble?” She said.
Support for zoning adjustment has been limited to people who have found medicinal cannabis useful.
“I don’t think anyone should be able to tell anyone what they can and can’t do,” said John Livermore, a resident. “I don’t think having a retail location for (a) cannabis consumption station in Saugerties is going to do any harm to our community. I think it is an area where people congregate, come together just like a pub or book club or knitting club and enjoy the good things together.”
The public hearing will continue on Wednesday, December 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Frank De Greco Senior Center, 207 Market Street.
City and village officials are also planning a community information session on December 13 at 7 p.m., a cannabis growing industry executive, a member of the New York State Cannabis Association, and an advocate for medical cannabis is scheduled to attend. The session panel will include City Supervisor Fred Costello, Village Mayor Bill Murphy, and City Police Chief Joseph Sinagra.