Village Board Makes Decision To Regulate Marijuana

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At last week’s public hearing, the village board adopted a local law that amended section 550-16 of the village’s municipal code. This would affect the village’s M district and would regulate marijuana retail stores in the likely event that state’s legislature legalizes the recreational use of marijuana.

The local law does not affect medical marijuana however.

Village attorney John Gibbons. (Photos by Anthony Murray)

“The village board recognizes that several states have permitted the distribution of marijuana for recreational purposes,” said village attorney John Gibbons, who read the law aloud. “The village board is generally concerned that despite any potential state regulation, marijuana may fall into the hands of those for whom it’s not intended, such as children. For these reasons, the board finds that it is important to ensure marijuana related businesses are sufficiently distant from schools, parks, daycare centers, houses of worship & residential zones.”

According to the local law, recreational marijuana stores should not be located anywhere within a 200-foot radius of any area zone for residential use, a one-half mile radius of any other use and a 500-foot radius of any school, church or any other place of worship, park, playground or playing field.

“We’re not looking to ban medical use of marijuana,” said Mayor Scott Strauss. “Personally, to do so I think is foolish. If someone needs medical marijuana because of their condition whether they’re an adult or a child, they should get it and have access to it. It’s heavily regulated currently in the state of New York and you have to be licensed. They only give out a certain amount of licenses and if it’s eased and pharmacies are allowed to provide medical marijuana to their patients, then I think they should do so. My personal opinion.”

Strauss said that the board is looking to regulate the recreational rezone use of marijuana.

“If you want to sell it in the Village of Mineola, then by all means you’re welcome in the M Zone down in our industrial center,” remarked Strauss.

Stores who currently sell vape products are not grandfathered into the new local law and would have to relocate to the M Zone if they wanted to sell marijuana.

When it was time for deputy mayor Paul Pereira to make his comment on the proposed law, he asked Gibbons “one of our M Zones abuts another residential village [East Williston]. Will those 200-feet take that village into consideration?”

Gibbons responded yes.

Deputy mayor Paul Pereira

“On a personal note, I think it behooves us to do this preemptively because of what’s going on in Albany,” said Pereira. “All indications are that marijuana use will be legalized…We’re being proactive by protecting our quality of life and by making sure that these businesses are away from schools, parks and away from families and where children gather.”

“It looks to me that the state is pushing forward on this matter,” said trustee Paul Cusato. “We need to react to this potential decision, we need to be prepared and protect our community. You can walk into a deli and buy six cans of beer and no one says anything. The results can be the same thing [as marijuana]. I’m in favor of this proposal.”

Trustee George Durham commented that if someone wants to go into the village’s M Zone and purchase marjiuana for their private consumption, then so be it.

“We need to take it and keep it away from the general area where our youth are and have it in an area where if somebody comes around and purchases it, they can. I’m in favor of what we’re doing,” said Durham.

Trustee Dennis Walsh reminded everyone that the board is only doing a code change, which he thought was good and necessary. In return, Strauss also reminded everyone that the proposed law could be altered in the future.

“If there’s a need for it, it can always be adjusted,” said Strauss.

During the public comment portion of the evening, Mineola resident Frank Hoare asked the board what the effect the Town of North Hempstead’s ban on marijuana sales would have on the village.

“There is none,” responded Strauss. “As far as I know, the ban on what the town does, does not regulate incorporated villages. They only deal with unincorporated villages of the town.”

“We’re really dealing with a zoning regulation hence is why don’t have to follow North Hempstead’s lead,” said Pereira. “We control our own zoning.”

At the end of the hearing, the board approved the local law in a vote of 5-0.

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