Former Olympia Sports in Potsdam eyed for retail cannabis dispensary

Jan. 11—POTSDAM — The former Olympia Sports store at 7479 Route 11 may be turned into a cannabis dispensary.

Town Supervisor Ann M. Carvill told the town board on Tuesday evening that the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) notified town officials that the site is being eyed for a dispensary under a state social equity program. The first legal cannabis sales licenses in New York are going to people who served state prison time for low-level marijuana offenses, the supervisor said. The state puts up the money to open the dispensary, and the social equity licensee has 10 years to pay it back.

The town will have to pass a local law to allow the dispensary to operate. The town planning board will have to approve the site plans and then it goes back to the town board. The board can send opinions on the dispensary to the state's Office of Cannabis Management, which becomes part of the application record which the state uses to determine whether the dispensary can move forward.

She said town officials have some work to do before any of this can happen. They're still trying to figure out some of the ins and outs.

"We're not alone in thinking New York state has gotten ahead of the local municipalities and advising us where we should be," the supervisor said.

Ms. Carvill also noted that if the dispensary goes forward, the store's size won't change and it will be certified with a maximum occupancy of 50 people.

Operating a cannabis dispensary is highly regulated. Town officials have a nine-page checklist the adult-use cannabis dispensary applicant has to satisfy. It covers things like the interior and exterior elements of the store, advertising prohibitions, security and storage of on-site cannabis and the store's security system. On-premises consumption will not be allowed.

New York is offering 150 social equity licenses statewide, which will be given to former inmates who did time for cannabis by lottery. The majority will be in New York City. The north country region will get four of those 150 licenses. A document from DASNY explaining the social equity cannabis licensing program does not define the exact regional boundaries.