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Beer, bong? Liquor stores want to sell pot if it is legalized in New York

Time:2018-11-06 21:08wine - Red wine life health Click:

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ALBANY – It’s an intoxicating proposal.

A coalition of liquor and wine store interests known as The Last Store on Main Street is starting a campaign to allow for the sale of “regulated, recreational marijuana” in their establishments.

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The founder of the Last Store coalition, Jeff Saunders, who is also head of the Retailers Alliance, said other states were pot was legalized saw declines in wine and liquor stores, resulting in job losses and store closings.

“New York should learn from the mistakes other states have made, and work with trusted partners who are already regulated by the state,” Saunders said. “Wine and liquor stores provide a good living for owners, many of whom are people of color. Their investments in the American Dream should not be threatened by this new product when it can easily be a lifeline instead.”

He notes that California and Canada allow recreational pot sales in wine and liquor stores.

With 3,000 locations across New York, the coalition says liquor and wine stores, which already operate under a stringent regulatory scheme, provide fast and affordable access to the marketplace.

The coalition also says the stores, which support local economies, already are required to ensure only adults of legal age buy their products.

“The state rejected wine in grocery stores and other outlets because lawmakers wanted to keep this product tightly controlled in our stores,” said Stefan Kalogridis, president of the New York State Liquor Store Association. “They should do the same with marijuana rather than placing this responsibility in the hands of new, unproven retailers.”

One person who sees no benefit to selling pot in liquor store or anywhere else is state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long, a former liquor store owner.

“I understand the politicians want to get their hand on the money that can be made from it, but I think it’s an awful way to put many of young people into darkness so we can get more tax revenue,” Long said.

Pressed on whether liquor stores should be allowed to sell pot if it is legalized in New York, Long wouldn’t budge.

“I don’t believe it should be sold, period,” he said.

Gov. Cuomo, who a year ago called marijuana a “gateway drug” and opposed its legalization, in August created a work group to develop recommendations on legislation to legalize pot in New York.

The 20-member panel includes members of his administration, academics, law enforcement, and public health and economic experts.

Its formation came a month after a Health Department-led study called for by Cuomo recommended the legalization of pot in New York, concluding that the “positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in NYS outweigh the potential negative impacts.”

Eight states overall have legalized the recreational use of pot. And Canada just legalized it across the entire country.

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Cuomo has said the proliferation, including in neighboring states like Massachusetts, made the question less about whether New York should legalize the drug and more about considering all aspects of a regulated marijuana program, including its impact on public health, criminal justice and state revenue, and mitigate any potential risks associated with it.”

The state has held a series of listening meetings on the issue. And the state Assembly Democrats this week held a separate hearing on the matter in New York City.

New York already has in place a tightly regulated medical marijuana program. One plan pushed by the Last Store on Main Street coalition is to allow struggling medical marijuana providers to also offer recreational pot and allow them to partner with liquor stores.

“As New York inches closer to legalizing recreational marijuana, wine and liquor stores present a natural retail partner for the state,” Saunders said. “Our owners are reliable stewards of highly regulated products with clean track records, and they have the existing retail space to immediately generate the tax revenue the state needs for its many needs. If the state is going to legalize marijuana, allowing our stores to play a part in the sales just makes sense.”

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