Cities in the East End have had mixed views on whether to stop retailing cannabis within their borders, while the villages here have sent a clear message to Albany and opted out of selling cannabis.
Although marijuana use has been legal across New York since early 2021, the state is in the process of creating the framework for the legal sale and cultivation of marijuana. Local communities had until December 31, 2021 to inform the state whether they would refuse to sell marijuana within their borders.
Communities that opt out can opt-in later, and some can do so after drafting zone changes to regulate where marijuana can be sold.
The cities of East Hampton and Shelter Island had decided against selling marijuana earlier this year, and the Southold Town Board voted in a special session on December 28th to go 3-2 in the East End villages of Greenport last summer , Sag Harbor, East Hampton, Southampton, Westhampton Beach, Quogue, and Sagaponack have all decided against selling marijuana.
Shinnecock Nation members voted in August to sell recreational cannabis at a pharmacy and lounge selling cannabis grown in the nation’s land. The company, called Little Beach Harvest, is a partnership with TILT Holdings, Inc., a vertically integrated cannabis company with a long history in the medical marijuana industry, which is funding the effort. Working as a medical marijuana dispensary before recreational use was legalized, Little Beach Harvest is slated to open on 56 Montauk Highway in Southampton this year – it may open much earlier than other dispensaries in the state as the Shinnecock Nation is sovereign Territory.
Much of the local opposition to cannabis sales was due to the all-or-nothing language in state law – local communities had until the end of 2021 to decide whether to opt out, though they might choose to opt out at some point in the future.
Several residents who voted for Southold Town to pull out at a public hearing on December 14 raised the issue.
“New York approached it in a rough way,” said Terrence Kelleher of Southold. “You have to log out by December 31st of this year, but they predict stores won’t open until 2023.”
“New York is the first state to offer lounges for cannabis use,” he added. “Colorado only allows consumption in private homes. In New York you can smoke it anywhere you can smoke cigarettes. This board of directors should deregister and take their time to discuss these issues … I don’t see that we as residents have anything to gain. “
“I feel like guinea pigs,” agrees Jeannie Schweibish from Mattituck. “Let’s see what happens in Riverhead and with the state.”
“Approval of pharmacies will only normalize a culture of drug use,” said Jacqueline Kanarvogel, a new Mattituck resident who specializes in youth drug prevention at HUGS in Westhampton Beach. “I’m here to argue for renunciation from a youthful perspective. I have no concerns about the responsible and safe use of marijuana by adults, but that will add very little money to the risk it could pose to the lives of the teenagers in our area. Wait, stop and watch. “
Ms. Kanarvogel added that she virtually attended meetings of the New York State Cannabis Control Board, saying those meetings still leave her with more questions than answers about monitoring cannabis sales.
Ryan Andoos, owner of Route 27 Hemp Yard in Moriches, said the city could lose a percentage of the tax revenue generated from marijuana sales if it opts out while a limited number of pharmacy licenses are distributed.
“There will still be delivery services that may be from Riverhead,” he said. “You can deliver in the town of Southold and the tax revenue would go to the town of Riverhead.”
Southold Town supervisor Scott Russell was skeptical.
“You say we get a percentage, but a percentage of what? They said that when they started Lotto and we got nothing. The state hasn’t even decided how to tax it, ”he said. “I don’t think tax revenue should be the foundation of public order. We have to shape public order in the best interests of the community. “
Mr Russell added that, from what he reads, the state will issue licenses on a geographic basis, with three per jurisdiction, although the state has not yet said what that jurisdiction will be.
“Are that three per city?” He asked. “There is no reason to believe that they will be devoured. The licenses will not be issued for some time. “
“I do not want to argue. There are many compelling reasons why we should consider allowing sales and there are many compelling reasons we should not consider (allowing them), ”he added. “I have no objection to its use or sale, to be honest. Ultimately, that will probably be inevitable. But I would like to wait for guidelines so that we don’t create laws in the dark. ”