After holding two public hearings, the Village of Great Neck Plaza’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to draft a local law which will allow the village to opt-out of adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries and on-site consumption licenses within the village.
The recently passed New York State law, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) provides for the legalization of adult-use cannabis possession (in certain specified quantities) for use by adults 21 years of age or older in accordance with the provisions of the state law.
Under New York State legislation, cities, towns and villages can render their own decision regarding recreational cannabis sales in their areas. They have until Dec. 31, 2021 to render a decision, but if they decide not to opt-out, that decision is permanent.
The second of two public hearings was held on Sept. 21 in which residents were allowed to voice their opinions as to whether or not the village should consider opting into or out of the legislation.
One resident stated a few reasons why he felt the village should opt-in to the legislation.
“In my opinion, the village should allow a dispensary for the following reasons: One, it is a source of income for the village, as Mayor Rosen mentioned at the last meeting and just now, the village is expected to get between two and three percent income from sales, this money can be used to improve the village,” the resident said. “Two, at the last meeting, a concerned mother voiced her opinion against allowing dispensaries saying it will be easier for teenagers to get drugs. Unfortunately to all the concerned mothers, the reality is that it is easier to get drugs from the school backyard than in a legal dispensary on Middle Neck Road.”
Another resident stated why the village should opt-out of the legislation.
“This area around here, parking isn’t premium and we also have a lot of alleys that people could come and after they buy their joints walk out and smoke marijuana,” he said. “When these places close at night, what’s going to happen? You don’t think marijuana dealers will come around because they have young people that can’t be sold to and they also have hours—people want to get a joint late at night. I think they are going to come around. That’s my opinion and that’s why I oppose—especially on-premise consumption. The police have told me that they are not ready to enforce the marijuana laws because they don’t have the equipment to test how high somebody actually is. This is not the marijuana of the ’60s. This is very high potency marijuana and that’s why I’m against it as a resident and as a property owner in Great Neck.”
During the Sept. 22 meeting and after listening to the public input at the previous two meetings, the village’s board of trustees held a discussion as to what decision they should make regarding this legislation.
“I think that the two meetings that we had were very productive,” Deputy Mayor Pamela Marksheid said. “We did get a variety of opinions both pro allowing a dispensary in our village and those who were against it. I think that they gave us a lot to think about.”
The meeting was then opened to comments from the public, to which no came up to speak. Mayor Ted Rosen then made the recommendation to the board that the village draft a local law which will allow them to opt-out of the legislation.
“The issue before us is really a narrow issue and that is whether or not these types of facilities—adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries and/or on-site consumption licenses—whether these types of facilities one or the other or both will have a beneficial effect on the village, a negative effect on the village or no effect,” Mayor Rosen said. “At this point, I feel that we are really in the dark because we don’t have experience with this in our village. No one in the state has experience with this. We just don’t know. Some people who have strong opinions that this would be beneficial for the downtown and an equal number of people, perhaps more, said it would not be. I think the most conservative and prudent approach that this village could take is to opt-out.”
Mayor Rosen explained that by opting out the village will have the opportunity to see what other communities and villages are experiencing with their decision to opt-in and would then be able to make a decision to opt in at a later time, if they chose to do so.
“If we don’t not opt-out now, we cannot opt-in later,” Rosen said.
Deputy Mayor Marksheid was in agreement, stating, “We don’t know how it’s going to work. If we opt-in then we’re stuck, that is the bottom line. If we wait and see if it’s successful [in other areas] without any issues, in a year, if it’s successful then we can opt-in. But if we opt-in first we are stuck with that decision.”
Other board members also agreed with the decision to opt-out.
The board voted unanimously to draft a local law to opt-out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries and on-site consumption licenses from operating within the village. The next Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m., in which the village board will likely vote on the proposed local law.