Greenport takes first step to potentially opt out of retail marijuana sales

As New York’s opt-out deadline approaches, the Village of Greenport has set a public hearing on potentially prohibiting the sale of retail marijuana.

Former governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in late March legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and over. Localities have until the end of the year to opt out of allowing licenses for on-site consumption and/or retail dispensaries where consumers can purchase cannabis products. Prohibition may be repealed, but not established, after the deadline.

Greenport’s public hearing will be held at Third Street Fire Station on Monday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m. Mayor George Hubbard indicated feeling on the Village Board is “right in the middle” right now and that a lot depends on public sentiment at the hearing. 

“Depending on how the public hearing goes and the feeling on it, then we may vote to opt out,” he said. “I’d really like to hear the public comments on it. When this first started up about six months ago, the feeling on the board was pretty much, ‘Nah, we don’t think that’s really something we want to do,’ but then that was discussed at a meeting and we got some feedback from some other people who said, ‘We think you should do that.’ ” 

Mr. Hubbard added that the village doesn’t stand to gain much financially from allowing dispensary licenses, even if establishments apply for licenses downtown. 

“We don’t collect sales tax revenue,” he said. “A lot of places are doing it for the financial part of it, which could be big, depending on what goes on with it, but we don’t get the sales tax directly to us, so it really doesn’t affect us monetarily that way.”

A party from Southold has emailed village trustees to indicate interest in potentially opening a dispensary in Greenport, but Mr. Hubbard said the board has not spoken with them yet. 

“We’re trying to set up some kind of discussion or meeting or conference call or something to find out what their plans are and what their intentions are. I really don’t know what’s involved in it. It was just a letter that came in saying, ‘you know, we’d like to talk to you about this,’ ” he said.