The agenda part of the regular Village of Valley Stream meeting on Monday was over in a few minutes, with agenda items detailing unglamorous village business, read out and coordinated with assembly-like efficiency. Then, during the public commentary, participants spoke for nearly an hour on a topic that was far from the agenda – the Marijuana Ordinance and Tax Act.
Specifically, the people were concerned with the question of whether the village trustees should vote to reject licensed cannabis pharmacies and consumption lounges in the village. In the last four meetings, the opt-out question dominated the participants’ comments, as the end of the year deadline for opting out is getting closer and closer.
Resident Carmine Fiore, a small business owner and veteran, is a potential cannabis retail business candidate who advocated the village’s cannabis dispensaries. Statutory pharmacies, Fiore said, would “undercut the illegal cannabis market” and help keep marijuana out of the hands of young people under the age of 21 using legal substances that can be added to cannabis users at any age and can be very dangerous for them. “
“The board and the city need to recognize that there are residents who are cannabis users …” he said. “How can the board say? [marijuana] is legal for adult use, but at the same time does not allow consumers a safe place to purchase and use cannabis?
Resident Linda Daris, a cannabis sales supporter, said, “We all know that other so-called vices like cigarettes and gambling are legal and regulated in New York State, so marijuana should be regulated in the same way. How many bars allow diners to stand outside and drink alcohol without a special permit? Why should it be any different in cannabis clubs? “
Daris said she did not smoke cigarettes and found their smell “disgusting” as those who oppose cannabis find marijuana smoke. Still, she said, “I have fewer rights than a cigarette smoker because you can smoke in public and all I can do to avoid it.” [it] is to get away from you as quickly as possible. ”
She added, “Valley Stream teens who want to buy weed already know where to get it.
While most participants reiterated their support for retail cannabis pharmacies, one woman, Dina Bianco, opposed it. “This is about the quality of life for Valley Stream residents,” she said. “People want to make money. They don’t care about the quality of life. It’s a slippery slope. People who do not live here. You didn’t go to school here. They just want to make money. ”
Trustee Dermond Thomas wondered if marijuana dispensaries were overrunning other stores, including coffee shops. “We are interested in the overall picture of the village,” he said. “We want the village to be the most varied, interesting, entertaining, exciting place for everyone. If we create an atmosphere in which business becomes business, then of course we lose that. ”
Fiore, in turn, enumerated the security measures put in place by MRTA that allow local governments to adapt regulations to community standards.
Mayor Ed Fare said: “We have had several pros and cons presentations. The board has done its best to perform its due diligence and to learn about all aspects of the situation. “
“Both sides of the argument are very compelling,” said trustee John Tufarelli. “I think it’s time we came to an agreement one way or another.”
A date for an opt-out vote has not yet been set.
If the village votes against, the residents can hold a referendum to override the board’s decision. State officials said residents would have to file a petition with signatures representing at least 10 percent of the total number of votes cast in the village’s last gubernatorial race.