Board Holds Hearing On Retail Cannabis Sales

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Later on, board decides to currently opt-out

The Village of Mineola recently held a public hearing about a proposed law that would have the village opt-out of licensing and establishing retail cannabis dispensaries and/or on-site cannabis consumption establishments within the village.

“The law promulgated by New York State provides that the village can [opt-out] prior to December 31,” village attorney John Gibbons said. “However,  if the village fails to opt-out before December 31, it cannot thereafter opt out. In contrast, if it opts out at this time and decides at a future date after December 31 that they would like cannabis retail stores within the village boundaries, they are allowed to opt-in.”

Most municipalities in Nassau have decided to opt-out, Gibbons concluded.

Residents spoke at the hearing about their concerns about whether or not the village should in fact opt-in or opt-out.

“If we are embracing alcohol establishments in this village, there is no reason not to embrace cannabis establishments,” one resident told the board. “If we are embracing firearm stores in the village, there’s no reason not to embrace cannabis. Cannabis is significantly less dangerous than firearms and alcohol. There are way too many open store fronts in this village. In addition to the moral inconsistencies, it would not be in the village’s best interest to forgo the revenue that it would see from cannabis related businesses.”

The board informed the public that the village does not control liquor or firearm stores that open in the village, stating that it is from New York State.

Resident Gus Ladado had a differing opinion when he addressed the board.

“We have a lot of empty stores right now in Mineola and it’s not our fault,” he said. “It’s everywhere. The last thing, in my opinion, we need is any kind of store opening up in this village that sells any kind of cannabis connected product.”

Resident Gregory Cannell said that he’s looking at opting-in to cannabis sales as a positive for the local economy.

“Our comptroller says there’s going to be 60,000 new jobs because of the marijuana industry in New York,” he explained. “And if most of Nassau County has already opted out, that means we have the opportunity for a monopoly on Nassau County jobs. I don’t get why we would potentially shoot ourselves in the foot by also opting out.”

After all the residents spoke at the hearing, Mayor Scott Strauss thanked everyone for speaking their minds about the hot topic.

“I want to mention that we have approved medical marijuana to be sold in the village, maybe two years ago,” he explained. “We’re not here to debate the legal sale of cannabis. That’s just simply not true. That’s already approved by the state. In my opinion, we’re debating whether we want it sold in Mineola. To me, that’s pretty simple. It boils down to whether or not—to me—the revenue is worth the additional traffic in Mineola. With many of our surrounding communities opting-out and we don’t, all of that traffic is going to come to Mineola [to the cannabis stores].”

Trustee George Durham felt differently about the proposed opting-out or in.

“I personally don’t think we should opt-out, but I think we should wait,” he said. “I have seen in other states that I have visited taking a look and to see what they were—and the traffic was no more than a pharmacy.”

However, earlier this month the village board reconvened to vote on whether or not to allow the sale of regular use cannabis in the village. In a 4-1 vote, the board—for now—decided to opt-out. Durham was the only trustee who voted in favor.

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