The Southold Town Board will vote at 7 p.m. Dec....

The Southold Town Board will vote at 7 p.m. Dec. 28 on banning or allowing cannabis retail dispensaries and onsite consumption sites. Credit: AP/Richard Vogel

Opinions are mixed among Southold residents and officials on whether the town should opt out of allowing retail cannabis sales when the town board votes next week on the issue.

The board will vote at 7 p.m. Dec. 28 on banning or allowing cannabis retail dispensaries and onsite consumption sites in Southold.

Residents at a Dec.14 public hearing on the matter mostly spoke against allowing the dispensaries.

Jean Schweibish, of Mattituck, was in favor of opting out, citing few clear guidelines from New York State on the issue.

"It doesn’t seem like the state has any guidelines, so it makes me really uncomfortable," Schweibish said. "It feels like we’re guinea pigs."

Supervisor Scott Russell told Newsday on Friday that residents had sent letters to Town Hall in favor of and opposed to retail cannabis sales. Russell said he thinks opting out of cannabis sales for now may give Southold time to consider how to best proceed with guidelines for any dispensaries.

"Opting out with an understanding…that it doesn’t mean that I support opting out permanently, but I merely support the opportunity of the town to have time to consider every aspect, is an appropriate action," Russell said.

The towns of East Hampton, Hempstead, North Hempstead, Huntington, Islip, Oyster Bay, Shelter Island and Smithtown have opted out of the legislation, as has the City of Glen Cove. Riverhead officials narrowly voted to opt in, and Brookhaven and Babylon towns have both opted in, either by failing to schedule a public hearing or deciding not to take a vote on the matter. The City of Long Beach is scheduled to vote Dec. 21.

Councilwoman Sarah Nappa told Newsday that Southold may benefit by being proactive in having cannabis sold legally, giving the town more say in determining where and how such dispensaries operate.

"In my opinion, it’s a little of the inevitable," Nappa said. "I think we should be doing the work to figure out where we want it and where in town is a good location for it. I’m leaning more toward ‘This is here, and it’s happening, and we need to be prepared for it.’"

Town Councilman Bob Ghosio said Southold may likely allow retail sales in the future. At this time Ghosio feels there are not enough state guidelines on retail cannabis dispensaries and said he would have preferred to have had time to put the issue up for a referendum vote.

"I think [opting out] is a prudent approach," Ghosio said, "and it allows the new town board to figure out where they would like to put them and give them an opportunity they haven’t had yet to get the input for themselves."

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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