Mineola opts out of retail marijuana in the village

Mineola opts out of retail marijuana in the village
The Mineola Board of Trustees voted four to one in favor of opting out from allowing the retail sale of marijuana in the village. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

The Mineola Board of Trustees voted last Wednesday to opt out of allowing the sale of marijuana in the village.

The move follows decisions by the neighboring villages of Floral Park, New Hyde Park and Williston Park to opt out of the adult-use cannabis industry that New York state projects will reach $350 million annually in tax collections.

The vote in Mineola was 4-1 with Trustee George Durham casting the lone vote to allow the retail sale of cannabis.

Under the new state law, consumption and smoking of cannabis is legal throughout New York wherever smoking tobacco is legal. Municipalities, however, have until Dec. 31 to refuse to allow the retail sale of the substance, though they will not get to share in any generated tax revenue.

Opting out before the December deadline would allow villages to enter the program in the future, but it would not work the other way around. 

Multiple trustees previously said at a public hearing that  their decision would be solely based on economic factors. 

Mayor Scott Strauss said during an October hearing that his main concern is subjecting the village to increased traffic, which he said would be exacerbated by neighboring villages’ decision to opt out. 

“I’m concerned about the congestion and the traffic that the only stores in this area would cause on our roads,” Strauss said. “I’m not so sure the revenue gained by having a store or two in the village is worth added traffic and parking issues.”

According to a news release from Carl Heastie, the speaker of the New York Assembly, cannabis sales will be subject to a 4 percent tax that will be split between the county and municipality at 1 percent and 3 percent, respectively. 

 Durham said at the hearing he does not believe the village should opt out of the retail sale of marijuana. He mentioned prohibitions against underage use and previous laws the village passed that would put any cannabis dispensary in an industrial zone, away from business hubs such as Jericho Turnpike, as reasons to consider retail sale. 

“I personally don’t think that we should opt out,” Durham said. “In states like Colorado and Massachusetts, some dispensaries are where the highest-paying jobs are in their particular community, and we can keep the ball rolling.”

Public comment at the hearing included residents both supporting and disagreeing with the state law. On Wednesday night  trustees spoke briefly,  reiterating their previously stated positions.

The opt-out may not be permanent, however. Residents can petition the outcome of the vote, which if successful triggers a process that places the law on the ballot at the next state or local election.

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