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North Hempstead to propose laws to curtail medical marijuana dispensaries in the town

North Hempstead Town officials plan Thursday to introduce a pair of new laws to limit where medical marijuana dispensaries can be located and also prohibit them from being converted to recreational dispensaries in the future.

The measures will be unveiled at a town board meeting, with public hearings tentatively scheduled for Nov. 20.

Town officials said that with the clustering of medical marijuana facilities in the town and draft legislation underway to legalize marijuana in New York State, that the time has come to put safeguard measures in place.

“All these things that are being decided up at the state level . . . and here we are having to deal with the decision that we had no say in making and are not being done in our best interest,” said Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth. “We need to make sure that our codes are far more restrictive than they have been.”

Two of the three dispensaries approved by the state for Nassau County are within North Hempstead. There is one dispensary in Lake Success that is run by California-based MedMen, which plans to move to a retail storefront in Manhasset. An application is pending for the relocation. Another dispensary run by Massachusetts-based CuraLeaf will open within a few months in Carle Place.

Bosworth said she questions MedMen’s planned relocation from a medical complex to a 6,396-square-foot building that is currently a Sleep Number store. Daniel Yi, a senior vice president at MedMen, previously told Newsday that the company's new locations, including the Manhasset building, were “better-suited for our goals of mainstreaming marijuana.”

Town officials said they have contacted the state Health Department for assurances that the third dispensary planned for Nassau County and to be operated by Manhattan-based Fiorello Pharmaceuticals will not be in North Hempstead.

A spokeswoman for the Health Department said that they are “working with Fiorello to ensure that they do not locate in the same town” and that Fiorello is finalizing location plans to submit for department review and approval.

Town officials also said they have repeatedly asked the Health Department to prohibit the MedMen relocation and have not gotten a response back. 

As of Oct. 24, there were 5,673 certified patients and 181 registered practitioners in Nassau County participating in the state medical marijuana program, the spokeswoman added.

In early August, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo created a working group to draft legislation to  legalize recreational marijuana, while considering factors such as the impact of legalization on public health, criminal justice and state revenue.

Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio said that the marijuana landscape in New York changed when the state “signaled their intention” to legalize recreational marijuana. The “rapidly evolving situation” requires the town to act now, she added.

“I really think we’re in new, uncharted territory,” De Giorgio said. “I think we need to get ahead of it, and I think once we do it other towns on Long Island will realize they need to get ahead of it, too.”

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