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Saltaire village trustees leaning toward opting out of marijuana sales

A draft of the proposed opt-out law for

A draft of the proposed opt-out law for cannabis sales in Saltaire would prohibit retail dispensaries inside village limits and not allow any onsite consumption areas. Credit: Morgan Campbell

The Saltaire Village Board of Trustees has signaled its interest in opting out of marijuana sales inside village limits.

New York’s marijuana law, which passed in March, gives municipalities until the end of 2021 to opt out of sales. A municipality that opts out can later opt in, but opting in is permanent.

A draft of the proposed opt-out law would prohibit retail dispensaries inside village limits and not allow any on-site consumption areas. The Fire Island beach community is home to only 113 full-time residents, according to the latest U.S. Census data, but that number swells to many times over during the summer months.

The proposal says that after reviewing information related to the law, village leaders feel that banning cannabis sales is in the best interest "of the residents and property owners and of the quality of life, safety and well-being of the residents of the Village, and the orderly development of the Village of Saltaire."

Despite whether pot dispensaries and sales are allowed in a municipality, the law allows residents to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana at home or in public. Under the law, localities cannot prohibit residents from consuming or growing marijuana. Legally homegrown marijuana likely won’t be allowed until 18 months after the first legal retail sales occur, which the legislation mandates to give the retail market an opportunity to establish itself.

The board plans to hash out details at its next board meeting, which hasn’t been announced. Residents will have an opportunity to discuss how they feel about potential marijuana dispensaries in the village.

If the trustees opt out, Saltaire will join several other Long Island communities whose officials have made the same decision. Islip Town moved to opt out of marijuana sales in August, along with Shelter Island Town. Oyster Bay Town earlier this year also changed its zoning to restrict cannabis sales to industrial zones.

Marijuana sales and use are expected to become legal around September 2022, after state officials establish licensing and regulatory procedures, legislators have said. Legal marijuana is expected to generate about $350 million statewide in annual sales tax revenue, the governor’s office has estimated. If a municipality opts out of allowing dispensaries, it cannot receive any generated sales tax revenue.

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