Hempstead opts out of retail cannabis sales, North Hempstead to vote on Thursday

Hempstead opts out of retail cannabis sales, North Hempstead to vote on Thursday
The Town of Hempstead board members unanimously opted out of the state's cannabis law last week. (Photo from the Island Now archives)

The Town of Hempstead Board unanimously voted to opt out of the state’s marijuana legalization law, which permits the sale and use of recreational cannabis.

After a majority of residents spoke in opposition to the law at meetings, the board voted 7-0 at a public session last week to opt out of the state law before the Dec. 31 deadline. 

“The town board is united in its opposition to the sale of recreational marijuana,” town officials said in a statement last week.

Under the state law, consumption and smoking of cannabis is legal throughout the state wherever smoking tobacco is legal, though the Nassau County Legislature banned cannabis smoking and vaping on all county-owned property earlier this year. Municipalities can opt out of allowing the retail sale of cannabis by Dec. 31, but they will not get to share in any generated local tax revenue.

Hempstead, which has a population of nearly 800,000 people, joined a majority of villages throughout the North Shore that have opted out of the state law, with none choosing to opt in yet. Once a municipality opts in to the law, it will not be able to opt out, but if a municipality does not initially opt in, it will have the opportunity to do so later.

Other towns on Long Island that have opted out of the law include East Hampton, Oyster Bay, Islip, Shelter Island and Smithtown. Babylon and Southampton are the two towns that have opted into the law.

The Town of North Hempstead is scheduled to make a decision during a virtual Thursday night public meeting at 7:30 p.m. The town’s cannabis task force, led by Clerk Wayne Wink, has held three  hearings that featured input from residents and experts on cannabis since September.

The rest of the panel consists of Deborah Abramson-Brooks, Sue Auriemma, Maria Elisa Cuadra, Leslie Davis, Dr. Betty Hylton, Jordan Isenstadt, Nikki Kateman, Jack Kott, Jeffrey Reynolds, Michael Sahn, Gloria Su, Marianna Wohlgemuth and Desiree Woodson.

The task force, officials said, will make a presentation on Thursday and conclude with a recommendation on what the town should do. Residents who wish to have their voices heard can do so through a virtual link sent out by town officials later this week.

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