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Marijuana dispensary proposed for downtown Glens Falls

Marijuana dispensary proposed for downtown Glens Falls

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GLENS FALLS — The oldest building in the city may soon become a marijuana dispensary.

Robin Barkenhagen and his business partner, Brian Bronzino, are seeking to convert an old blacksmith shop at 56 Glen St. into an adult-use marijuana dispensary. The building was constructed in the 1830s.

The pair, who operate the 42 Degrees smoke shop at 206 Glen St., created a new business, Warren County Cannabis LLC, for the dispensary.

Barkenhagen, the president of the Glens Falls Collaborative who is seeking a seat on the Common Council, also secured the name Cannabis Café for a separate marijuana-related business he hopes to open in the future somewhere in Glens Falls or Warren County.

“Our plan is to use 56 (Glen St.) as a dispensary and we want to make sure that we’re jumping through the right hoops to make sure we can do that,” he said.

The 4,889-square-foot building, which sits directly across from Cool Insuring Arena, has hosted a number of retail outlets over the decades. The building was acquired by Bronzino in 2019, according to Warren County property records.

Plans to convert the building into a dispensary will be heard by the Planning Board on Tuesday.

The facility, Barkenhagen said, is the ideal location for a dispensary because it is tucked away behind a retaining wall but still receives ample vehicle and foot traffic from the arena.

He added that the building can be easily secured, a key for the legal marijuana industry, which remains a cash-only business since the drug remains illegal on the federal level.

“It’s easy to secure. I think that’s what we liked about it. It’s contained in itself,” Barkenhagen said.

Earlier this month, state lawmakers moved to legalize adult-use marijuana for those 21 and older. The law allows marijuana sales in special retail shops known as dispensaries, as well as marijuana cafes and lounges, so long as operators have the required state permits.

But the shops cannot be opened for at least 18 months, and local municipalities can opt out of marijuana sales entirely.

Mayor Dan Hall said a decision on whether to allow marijuana sales has yet to be made, but expects conversations on the subject to begin sometime in the near future.

“We need to look at what’s allowable and what’s not. The Common Council has to have some discussions,” he said. “So, it’s a little premature, but we are working on it.”

But Barkenhagen said he believes the city will allow for the sales, noting the increase in new sales tax revenue and past plans to bring a medical marijuana packaging facility to the city-owned Tech Meadows park that were approved in 2018.

The plans have since fallen through.

Still, he noted there will likely be pushback to his plans because of the “stigma” that surrounds marijuana.

Barkenhagen said he’s hoping to get the conversation started around legal marijuana and hopefully find some kind of middle ground with those who may be opposed to opening a dispensary in Glens Falls.

“There’s always been a stigma about it and there’s always going to be,” he said. “The more you can appease everybody and keep everybody happy, the better you are. In this location, I think we can do that.”

The city’s Planning Board will meet Tuesday at 4:45 p.m. via Zoom teleconference. Information on how to attend the meeting can be found on cityofglensfalls.com.

Chad Arnold is a reporter for The Post-Star covering the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George and Washington County government. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGArnold.

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