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Hempstead votes 7-0 to opt out of marijuana sales, the sixth LI town to do so

Town of Hempstead Town seal

Town of Hempstead Town seal  Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Hempstead has joined at least five other Long Island towns that have banned retail sales and public consumption of marijuana when recreational pot use becomes legal next year.

The town board voted 7-0 on Tuesday to opt out of part of the state marijuana legalization law. Towns across the state — including the 13 on Long Island — have until Dec. 31 to decide whether to opt out.

Incoming Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, in one of his last meetings as a Hempstead councilman, joined his colleagues in supporting the opt-out.

Hempstead is the largest township in the United States and has a population of nearly 800,000 residents, according to the 2020 census. The town can opt in later if officials change their minds. When municipalities opt in the decision is permanent.

"The town board is united in its opposition to the sale of recreational marijuana," Hempstead officials said in a statement, adding they also are "firmly against ‘on premises’ consumption of marijuana at [public] facilities within the Town of Hempstead."

The opt-out does not bar residents from consuming or growing pot at their homes.

Besides Hempstead, officials in Smithtown, Islip, East Hampton and Shelter Island towns have decided to opt out. The latest to do so is Oyster Bay Town, whose board officials voted 7-0 Tuesday to disallow sales and consumption sites.

Towns such as Brookhaven and Babylon opted in, either by failing to schedule a public hearing or deciding not to take a vote on the matter.

Brookhaven instead barred pot sales in downtown business districts by restricting shops selling legal marijuana to areas zoned for industrial uses.

The North Hempstead Town Board plans to vote on opting out on Dec. 16. The City of Long Beach has scheduled a Dec. 21 vote on the matter.

— With Ted Phillips

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