As communities across New York debate how to deal with the legalization of marijuana, the city of Kingston is deciding whether to create a task force can help the city navigate the budding industry.
New York state passed the Marijuana Regulation Tax Act, or MRTA, in March 2021, legalizing adult recreational use of cannabis in communities across the state.
Communities then had to figure out whether or not to allow marijuana dispensaries.
In Kingston, city leaders gave recreational marijuana the green light.
“We wanted to put together the task force that would kind of get community input on the developing regulations and the policies that the MRTA is now in process of,” said Alderwoman Rita Worthington, Kingston Common Council majority leader.
The group would consist of six council-appointed community members and three appointed by the mayor. Its mission? To advise the common council about the industry, along with the pros and cons of cannabis.
“We don’t have to say that we know that marijuana, with the criminalization of it, mostly impacted communities of color, so now that it’s legal and a lot of money stands to be made from it, we want to make sure that those communities that were impacted by it negatively, that they also be some of the first ones to maybe obtain licenses,” Worthington said.
City resident Mary Eylers uses medical cannabis products to help her relieve chronic pain. She feels the city needs to have the conversation about cannabis.
“It’s better than what I used to take for pain, much, much better,” Eylers said.
She said she likes the idea of the community having a say in how cannabis is sold in the city.
“Yes, I think it’s extremely important to hear from just regular people,” she said.
Although decriminalized, there is still stiff opposition to recreational use, and some communities have opted out of having anything to do with the industry.
If the resolution to form the task force passes, Kingston would join Albany, which is also forming an advisory committee on marijuana regulations.
“Me, myself, I’m not sure of other council members, I don’t know how well-versed they are with these policies, legislation, the cannabis industry, so that’s why we want to bring people in,” said Worthington. “We want to try to be proactive in trying to get on top of it, and make sure that it is done correctly and done fairly and equitably as well.”