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Lindenhurst village delays vote on medical marijuana dispensary ban

Lindenhurst Village Hall in Lindenhurst is seen on

Lindenhurst Village Hall in Lindenhurst is seen on Monday, July 11, 2016. Credit: Steve Pfost

The Lindenhurst Village board of trustees is holding off a vote on banning medical marijuana dispensaries after hearing from residents opposed to the proposed new law.

The village on Tuesday held a public hearing on the proposed ban, which also targets new businesses that use or sell e-cigarettes, or vape products, as well as hookahs. The village currently has a moratorium on new businesses of this type. Officials said the two existing vape stores in the village would be grandfathered in, and thus exempt from the proposed permanent ban.

The village has no hookah or medical marijuana businesses, but Mayor Mike Lavorata said that as the village looks to build up its downtown, he wants more “family-friendly” businesses and doesn’t want to encourage “bad habits.”

Long Island has two medical marijuana dispensaries, in New Hyde Park and Riverhead, and has been approved for four more undisclosed sites.

While no one at the hearing spoke out regarding the vape or hookah aspects of the ban, two residents asked the village to reconsider the medical marijuana part.

Marguerite Danaher, who owns a financial planning business downtown, said she suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A, a progressive neuropathy. She said she has tried numerous pain relievers but they left her with migraines and unable to function, so she is now seeking to try medical marijuana to help with the increasingly intense shooting pain she experiences.

“I don’t think I’m considered undesirable,” she said. “And I don’t think medical marijuana is a bad habit.”

Another resident, Mary Cunningham, said she has been a registered nurse since 1951 and suffers from chronic back and knee pain. She said opioid pain relievers “do not make me feel well.”

“I might like to try it,” she said of medical marijuana. “We should give it more consideration,” she told the board.

Village Administrator Doug Madlon also read aloud a letter received from resident Robert Warren opposing the ban. Warren wrote that vape shops should be allowed to open “like any other business” because they “do offer help” in getting people to quit smoking cigarettes. He also wrote that the village has an “aging population that could benefit” from a medical marijuana dispensary.

Lavorata said the board would table a vote on the ban “until we do some further studies.”

Danaher said after the hearing that she wants to erase the stigma of medical marijuana and that she spoke out because she “wanted to be the absolute face” of the treatment.

“They’re thinking about kids hanging out and smoking in the back,” she said. “That’s not the face of medical marijuana. It’s a 52-year-old professional woman with five kids.”

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