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Greenport opts out of allowing retail marijuana sales, on-site consumption

Retail marijuana will not be coming to Greenport in the near future.

Village trustees voted 3-2 Monday night to opt out of allowing on-site marijuana consumption and retail dispensaries within village boundaries, ahead of the state’s Dec. 31 deadline. The village may choose to opt in later, reversing the decision, but it will never again have the opportunity to opt out. 

Last spring, Shelter Island opted out from allowing dispensaries and on-site consumption of cannabis.

Greenport Mayor George Hubbard, Deputy Mayor and Trustee Jack Martilotta, and Trustee Mary Bess Phillips voted in favor of the opt out, emphasizing regulatory concerns. Trustees Julia Robins and Peter Clarke voted against.

“I’m not opposed to it either way, I just think that we’re really not prepared for this,” Mayor George Hubbard said. The village can choose to opt in six months from now with more research after seeing “what the state is going to do.”  

Trustee Mary Bess Phillips took a similar stance, emphasizing that whether residents smoke marijuana is not the issue.

“The issue is our quality of life in the Village of Greenport,” she said, emphasizing the lack of regulatory guidance so far from the state Office of Cannabis Management. “My vote is going to be to opt out of these two types of businesses operating within the Village of Greenport at this time until the promised approved regulations for the application process for these types of businesses are issued by the two New York state agencies.”

The Cannabis Control Board didn’t hold its first meeting until Oct. 5 and as of Oct. 29 had not issued guidance on the licensing of retail marijuana businesses, according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government

Mr. Martilotta said he’s not against marijuana either, but he can’t “in good conscience go to my neighbors with no answers … just on the blind faith that New York State is going to do the right thing.”

The village vote followed a public hearing where — although sentiment was fairly mixed — many spoke in favor of legalizing retail cannabis establishments in Greenport. Mr. Clarke said he changed his mind after the hearing.

“I came prepared tonight to support the opt-out because I thought we needed more time, more facts,” he said. “But I was moved by the conversation in the room and the most compelling argument I heard for getting in and moving forward with the state legalization was two or three things. Really, the idea of taking away the illicit and illegal nature of having to resort to procuring cannabis in an illegal fashion. The other was taking away the fear, if you will.”

He said the proposition would place a lot of pressure on the village to sort out accompanying issues, but he’s more inclined to “to throw our hat in the ring with the other places in the state to follow the state’s leadership in decriminalizing marijuana, and allowing our residents to be able to find it in their community in a safe way.”

Other cannabis regulations now on the books

• Adults 21 years and older can possess up to three ounces of marijuana or up to 24 grams of cannabis in concentrated forms, like oil.

• Those previously convicted on low-level marijuana charges will have their records expunged.

• At home, adults are allowed to store up to five pounds of cannabis but are required by law to take “reasonable steps” to ensure it’s stored securely and not accessible to minors.

• Home cultivation will also be allowed 18 months after the first adult-use dispensary opens. Adult users will be allowed up to six plants at home and a maximum of 12 plants will be allowed in one household. Plants can be cultivated indoors or outdoors.