As municipalities throughout the North Shore continue to hold hearings on whether or not to opt-out of allowing retail cannabis sales, the Village of Great Neck Plaza will hold public forums to have their voices heard before making any decisions.
An email notice from the village scheduled public forums on Sept. 9 and Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. to allow residents a chance to voice their opinions.
Great Neck Plaza Mayor Ted Rosen clarified that these public forums, which do not coincide with the regularly-scheduled Board of Trustees meetings, will not feature any concrete decisions by village officials.
“In making the decisions on whether or not to opt-out of allowing these retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses within the Village, we want to hear the views of the public,” Rosen said in the email. “No decisions by the Village will be made at these forums. Such decisions will be made at the Village Board of Trustees meetings to be held later.”
Under a new state law, consumption and smoking of cannabis is legal throughout the state wherever smoking tobacco is legal, though the Nassau County Legislature recently banned cannabis smoking and vaping on all county-owned property.
Municipalities can opt out of allowing retail sale of cannabis by Dec. 31, but they will not get to share in any generated local tax revenue.
In August, the Town of North Hempstead announced the establishment of a cannabis task force in charge of gathering public input, along with providing insights on the benefits and consequences of opting in or out.
The task force will be made up of residents and various public safety, business and health experts, town officials said. Town Clerk Wayne Wink, a Democrat who is running for town supervisor in the upcoming November election, will serve as the task force’s moderator.
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.
Wink said he looks forward to working with the committee on weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the legislation and hearing from town residents for their opinions.
“All community members will have ample opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions,” Wink said in a statement. “It will be incumbent upon the committee to weigh all of their concerns and ultimately make a prudent recommendation to the town board.”
Kateman, the political and communications director for Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, representing workers in the cannabis industry, previously pointed out a downside of opting out at a Village of Flower Hill meeting earlier in August.
“People are going to be purchasing cannabis products, but they’re going to be doing that in other jurisdictions who will then be collecting that tax revenue,” Kateman said. “Opt-out means in a lot of ways opting out of revenue.”
However, residents could stop a town from opting out by petitioning the outcome of the governing board’s vote, which would put the measure up for a public vote in an election.
As of Thursday, the villages of Great Neck Estates, Flower Hill, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, and Williston Park were among the local municipalities to opt out of allowing retail cannabis sales.