Amityville Village Hall in 2009.

Amityville Village Hall in 2009. Credit: Ed Betz

The Village of Amityville is poised to become the only municipality on Long Island that is putting the question of whether to opt out of the state’s new marijuana law directly to the voters.

The village’s board of trustees on Monday is expected to vote to opt out of the state’s law legalizing recreational marijuana retail and consumption sites, but hopes to leave the final decision on the issue up to voters by placing a referendum on the November ballot. A deadline in the state law, however, may prevent the board from doing so.

A public hearing will be held before the village board’s vote.

Municipalities have until Dec. 31 to pass a law opting out of the state’s marijuana law, which was passed in March and which legalizes the possession, sale and growing of marijuana for recreational purposes for anyone 21 years and older. State officials estimate that the new law will generate $350 million in annual tax revenue. There will be a 13% tax on retail sales, of which the county will get 1% while local municipalities get 3%.

Under the state law, a municipality cannot prohibit residents from consuming or growing marijuana but can opt out of retail sales and consumption sites. Opt-out laws can be overturned through a referendum, and a municipality that opts out can opt in at a later date.

According to the Nassau and Suffolk Boards of Elections, no municipalities have marijuana referendums on the November ballot.

Some Long Island towns had previously discussed getting the issue on the ballot but under the law must first receive a petition, according to town supervisors, whereas villages can hold a referendum without the petition.

Amityville Mayor Dennis Siry said the board will vote to opt out but wanted residents to have the final say.

"We wanted the people in the village to decide, not just us," Siry said. "We’re here for certain decisions that they trust us to make, but for this one we’ll leave it up to everybody."

But Amityville may be too late to get the question onto the general election ballot. Suffolk’s Republican Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota, a former Amityville trustee, was surprised to hear of Amityville’s plans when contacted by a Newsday reporter, and pointed to a state law that requires referendums be submitted 90 days before an election.

Village attorney Bruce Kennedy said that he then received a call from LaLota and discovered that the law had been changed from 36 days to 90 days. Kennedy said he had been unaware of the change, which LaLota told Newsday occurred in 2019.

"We’re talking to them and trying to come up with a way to deal with this so we can have this thing on the ballot," Kennedy said, noting the village is hoping to avoid the thousands of dollars it would cost to hold a special election. "We’re just trying to save some money here. . . but one way or the other we’re going to do it."

The hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall, 21 Ireland Place.

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