Wawarsing opts out of recreational marijuana business…

While Rochester Town Board is sleeping at the wheel, Wawarsing joins Esopus
in opting out of retail sales of – and lounges for – recreational marijuana.

December 21, 2021

In response to the Town of Wawarsing voting  5-0 to opt out of “consumption sites” (i.e., pot lounges) for  recreational marijuana and  3-2 to opt out of “cannabis-based dispensaries” (i.e., weed shops) for  recreational marijuana tonight at a special Board meeting to consider the newly enacted  Local Laws 3 and  4, Fr. Arthur Rojas, a priest who assists with Hispanic ministry at the local Catholic parish in the Town of Wawarsing (St. Mary-St. Andrew) observed, “In a matter of one week, Wawarsing joins my home town of Esopus in becoming the  second municipality in Ulster County to opt out of weed shops and pot lounges for recreational marijuana. Kudos to Fr. Kenneth Riello, pastor of St. Mary-St. Andrew Church and his parishioners for building on what my parishioners at Esopus first achieved last week to keep our towns  a family-friendly place to live.” In addition to helping at Ellenville most Sundays with Hispanic ministry, Fr. Rojas is the  administrator of Presentation-Sacred Heart Parish at Port Ewen and Esopus .  

Deacon John Carr, an Ellenville resident who is assigned to a Catholic parish in Ulster County, attended the meeting and spoke in favor of both proposals. The deacon noted earlier to Fr. Rojas, “It’s already legal to consume in your home a certain amount. Why do they even need “specialty sites” for that purpose?” After the results of both votes, later Dcn. Carr exulted, “I’m grateful to God for a good outcome to this evening’s Town Board meeting. Be assured of it. I couldn’t be more pleased.”  

With flyers sighted with the words “VOTE YES to Local Laws #3 and #4 NOW!!!”, a diverse group of residents, including  English and Spanish speaking parishioners of St. Mary-St. Andrew Church, supported speakers including Fr. Riello and Dcn. Carr – who urged the Board to adopt both bills in contrast to a seemingly smaller number of opponents present at the meeting.  

Concluded Fr. Rojas, “It has been a  blessing for our clergy and laypeople to raise awareness with people such as the three Board members who voted for both bills at Wawarsing  and the supporters at Esopus on its Board and in the community, including people of different faiths, to keep our towns  family-friendly places to live and to  deter the normalization of narcotics, even in the name of raising revenues for local governments. These victories have been the fruit of much prayer, outreach, and persistence, along with sharing with the brethren at Ellenville and Wawarsing the benefit of our experience in Esopus.”  

Presentation – Sacred Heart Parish
Port Ewen, New York – Esopus, New York

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