Varying opinions for Greenport Village officials as they begin to discuss opt out of marijuana sales

Greenport Village officials voiced varying opinions on whether the village should opt out of allowing marijuana sales within their borders at a work session Thursday.

Mayor George Hubbard Jr. polled the board to begin a discussion that will likely unfold over the next several months. “We need to know where we’re going to go with this,” Mr. Hubbard said. “I’m not making the decision myself.”

Legislation legalizing recreational marijuana for those 21 years and older was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo late last month, though it may take until 2022 to get dispensaries or consumption sites up and running.

Municipalities across the state have until the end of this year to ban dispensaries or on-site consumption spaces within their jurisdiction, though possession and consumption of cannabis will still be legal.

The state is expected to tax cannabis sales at 13% and share a portion of the revenue — 3% to municipalities that opt in and 1% to counties – with municipalities that permit sales.

Trustee Julia Robins said Thursday that she would support the new initiative. 

“I think that it would provide an opportunity for a revenue stream for the village that would be useful,” Ms. Robins said. “Our budget obviously is very lean right now.”

Important factors to consider, she said, is where such businesses would be allowed within the village and ensuring the village would receive its fair share of the revenue.

She also wondered if the village could opt-out of consumption sites but not retail sales — a question village counsel is expected to explore.

But trustee Mary Bess Phillips said the system for potential revenue is flawed.

“They’re jingling the dollar signs in front of everyone and that’s the wrong way to even think about it,” she said, adding that she can’t envision having a cannabis lounge in the downtown area.

“I don’t think that’s our image. We’re gearing ourselves toward families,” Ms. Phillips said, speaking in favor of opting out with the possibility of opting back in down the road. “We need to educate ourselves and think about the big picture.”

Trustee Jack Martilotta said it’s one of the big questions the board must answer. One factor is that marijuana is already being sold, albeit on the black market. “I think we’d be naive to think that there is not currently some sort of marijuana business in [the area,]” he said.

Both Mr. Martilotta and Mr. Hubbard said they’d like to consider what neighboring communities decide to do. “It’s a hard question. There are a lot of unknown facts,” Mr. Hubbard said.