Mineola trustees announce public hearing over possible cannabis opt-out

Brandon Duffy
Jennifer DeSena spoke with the Mineola Board of Trustees regarding the public hearing slated to be held Oct. 13 over cannabis. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

The Mineola Board of Trustees passed a law last week that would prohibit the smoking or vaping of cannabis products on all village-owned properties. Mayor Scott Strauss also announced that a public hearing will take place Oct. 13 on the possibility of opting out of the cannabis retail law. 

Under the new state law, consumption and smoking of cannabis are now legal throughout New York wherever smoking tobacco is legal. Municipalities have until Dec. 31 to refuse to allow the retail sale of the substance, though they will not get to share in the 4 percent of generated tax revenue.

Speaking about the proposed resolution at a meeting last Wednesday, each trustee was in favor of the prohibitions.

 “This law certainly makes sense to me,” Strauss said. Trustee Paul Cusato echoed similar sentiments. “Mayor, it’s very simple. It’s just the right thing to do,” he said. 

Neighboring villages Floral Park, New Hyde Park and Williston Park each have opted out of the adult-use cannabis industry that New York state projects to reach $350 million annually in tax collections.

The resolution that was passed is separate from the village potentially opting out of retail marijuana sales. Villages have until Dec. 31 to opt out. If they fail to do so, they may never opt out again in the future. However, if the village were to opt out before the deadline, it can opt back in sometime in the future. 

During the public portion of the meeting, the lone speaker, Jennifer DeSena, a Manhasset resident running for supervisor in the Town of North Hempstead as a Republican, provided points against cannabis legalization and any potential opting inby Mineola.  

DeSena, who is executive director of the nonprofit Manhasset Community Coalition Against Substance Abuse, alluded to her town’s experiences this summer and the discrepancy between cannabis strength over generations, among other things. 

“My village Manhasset is devastated this summer by the loss of three young men who were killed by a driver who was speeding and swerved into their car and had marijuana in his,” DeSena said. “We feel that there’s no amount of tax revenue that’s worth the loss of even one life.”

She said marijuana had increased in potency and said that and ease of accessibility are reasons  to wait for more information. 

“There’s a huge gap in understanding today’s marijuana is much stronger than it used to be in the 1970s,” she continued. “It contained about three percent THC. Today, most of the youth uses vaporized marijuana that can be as much as 95% pure THC. It’s easy to purchase and it’s easy to use.”

DeSena said her goal in speaking was to encourage Mineola to opt out of retail sale, educate the public and protect youth. 

Any potential  opt-out may not be permanent. Residents can petition the outcome of a vote, which if successful triggers a process that places the law on the ballot at the next state or local election.

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