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Greenport could vote on potential marijuana opt-out following hearing next week

The Village of Greenport could vote to prohibit the sale of retail marijuana following a public hearing next week.

New York passed legislation earlier this year legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and over. Municipalities have until Dec. 31 to opt out of allowing on-site consumption and/or retail dispensaries from locating and operating within their boundaries. Although an opt-out can be repealed later, localities may not opt out of the legislation after that date.

Village trustees briefly discussed the vote at a work session on Thursday night, including the possibility of a permissive referendum if the board votes to opt-out. 

According to the New York Conference of Mayors, residents seeking a permissive referendum must file a valid petition signed by at least 20% of registered voters in the village with the office of the village clerk within 30 days of the law’s passage. If no petition is filed, then the local law or resolution goes into effect. 

“Because we have permissive referendum included, we would need to vote at this month’s meeting,” said village clerk Sylvia Pirillo. The village has prepared resolutions to opt-out.

Village attorney Joseph Prokop added that if the village does not opt-out now, it “can never opt out again, forever.”

“Six to 12 months later, you can undo it. You can say we decided now that we don’t want to opt-out,” he said. “If you go into 2022 and make an assessment based on what’s happening in other communities or in this community and reverse the opt-out, but if you do not opt-out, you could never then opt-out.”

Mayor George Hubbard indicated after an Oct. 28 trustees meeting that board sentiment on the opt-out is “right in the middle,” and a lot depends on public feedback at the hearing.

“Depending on how the public hearing goes and the feeling on it, then we may vote to opt out,” he said at the time. “I’d really like to hear the public comments on it.”

NYCOM indicates that although the possession and use of cannabis is now legal, the “actual sale of adult-use cannabis will be heavily regulated by the state and is not expected to begin until late 2022 or early 2023.”

The public hearing will be held at Third Street Fire Station on Monday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m. Resources on how the state marijuana legislation will impact municipalities may be found at nycom.org.