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Oyster Bay plans to ban retail sales, on-site commercial consumption of marijuana

Under the state law, a municipality cannot prohibit

Under the state law, a municipality cannot prohibit residents from consuming or growing marijuana but can opt out of retail sales and consumption sites.  Credit: AP/Richard Vogel

Oyster Bay plans to ban retail sales and on-site commercial consumption of marijuana in the town’s unincorporated areas, joining a growing list of Long Island municipalities that have opted-out or are considering doing so.

The New York State marijuana legalization law passed in March gives municipalities until Dec. 31 to opt-out of the law’s provision allowing the operation of cannabis dispensaries and cafes. Opting out does not affect personal use of marijuana, which is generally legal in places where tobacco smoking is permitted. Driving while under the influence of marijuana is a crime.

The public will get the chance to weigh in on Oyster Bay’s proposed ban at a Dec. 7 hearing. Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino did not respond to an interview request about the proposal.

The proposed local law states that "permitting such establishments without reviewing the unique novel impact the establishment of such businesses would have on the health, safety and welfare of the residents … would not be in the best interest of town residents."

Among the concerns listed in the proposal’s text is the proximity of churches, parks, schools and residential zones to cannabis establishments. Those concerns were also raised when the town in March changed its zoning code to require retail marijuana shops to be in light industrial zones at least 1,000 feet from residences, schools, libraries, parks or houses of worship. That zoning change was originally proposed for vaping shops and hookah lounges, but town officials had appeared to back off the issue in the face of industry opposition. When the State Legislature was poised to legalize marijuana, the town held a special meeting to pass the zoning change, which passed in March, adding retail marijuana sales, the restrictions on vaping shops and smoking lounges.

Several Long Island municipalities have opted out or scheduled hearings to do so. Smithtown and Shelter Island have opted out and North Hempstead has scheduled a public hearing on its proposed opt-out. Riverhead has opted in.

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