Ulster County Town Welcomes Potential Marijuana Distributors

New Paltz opts in to allowing marijuana dispensaries in their municipalities, as a major cannabis facility proposes the development of a major facility in the Ellenville area. Photo Courtesy of s.hdnux.com.

A major cannabis facility may be coming to Ulster County as early as spring 2022.

Cresco Labs, a vertically integrated cannabis and medical marijuana company, is planning on developing a major cannabis cultivation, processing, packaging and distribution facility in the Ellenville area. 

This comes after Ulster County announced an interest in wanting to become a leader in the new cannabis market following the legalization of marijuanna in the state of New York. Ulster County has 400-plus farms and nearly 60,000 acres of farmland perfect for growing cannabis. Before legalization, the region was restricted to hemp farms.

All towns in the state have until Dec. 21 to either opt in or out on allowing marijuana dispensaries or retail cannabis locations in their municipalities. 

The Towns of New Paltz, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh and Kingston have opted in. 

On Aug. 5, the Town of New Paltz council members unanimously voted to write a letter of support for a proposed marijuana dispensary there, signaling that the town will be opting in. If approved, the proposed dispensary, called Farmer’s Choice, would be located on Old Route 299; no consumption would occur on site.

There has been no discussion in Poughkeepsie on opting out of cannabis sales, said Evan Menist, Poughkeepsie Common Council member. 

“I would be strongly opposed to any opt out, which would not change the ability for residents to consume cannabis products, but would certainly starve the city of a major source of tax revenue which could be a boon for the city’s coffers,” he wrote in an email.

Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey said he supports allowing dispensaries and on-site marijuana consumption in his city. “My focus isn’t to limit dispensaries or ways to go into business since its legalized in our state,” Harvey said. “Those prohibitors aren’t necessary or needed.” Harvey said that those who consume cannabis irresponsibly will be held accountable, similarly to those who drink alcohol irresponsibly.

However, the towns of Goshen, Rhinebeck, Phillipstown, Middletown, Crawford and The Village of Chester and the Village of Cold Spring have opted out.

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, July 20, city aldermen voted to ban marijuana stores and consumption sites, like cafes, in Middletown. The decision makes Middletown one of the first communities in Orange County to opt-out, following behind the village of Chester’s vote to do so on July 12.

Mayor Joe DeStefano said he was leaning towards opting out of allowing dispensaries for the “simple reason that you can opt back in but you can’t opt out after Dec. 31.” The town may in the future opt in later.

The Town of Rhinebeck made the decision to opt out of allowing marijuana dispensaries and on-site consumption of cannabis at a meeting on Sept. 1. Only one council member was in opposition of opting out.

“We told folks, ‘This isn’t the end of it,’” said Town of Goshen Supervisor Douglas Bloomfield. “If you really want to overcome this opting out, you can put it on a referendum and reverse this. It’s not the end of the world, you have an opportunity.”

The vote was 3 to 2 in the Town of Goshen.

If Cresco Labs moves forward with their proposal, they would take over the former Schrade knife company site which closed down 17 years ago.

“This is one of the biggest economic opportunities we have had in Ellenville in decades,” Ryan said in a press release. “Cresco will turn a site that once represented the beating heart of this economy back into the economic engine that it can and should be — providing good-paying jobs for local residents and putting Ulster County at the leading edge of the rapidly-growing cannabis industry.”

Cresco Labs explains that the facility will employ 300 to 400 people. Working hand in hand with Assistant Deputy County Executive Dan Torres, the two expect to work towards an agreement where members from the local labor force will be hired. 

Additionally, the facility is expected to be at least 360,000-square-feet and would include a new building for cultivation, as well as spaces for processing, packaging, distribution, and offices.

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About Zoe Woolrich 57 Articles
Zoe Woolrich (she/her) is the Editor-in-Chief of The Oracle. Over the past five semesters she has served as Copy Editor, News Editor and Managing Editor. She is fourth-year media management major from New York City. You can contact her at woolricz1@newpaltz.edu.