Smithtown’s City Board has scheduled a Sept. 23 public listening to for laws to decide out of a provision of New York State marijuana regulation legalizing retail sale of the drug.
Two board members — Supervisor Edward Wehrheim and Tom Lohmann — have already stated in interviews that they see little profit to permitting dispensaries and cafes within the city, not less than for now. The city’s share of marijuana gross sales tax income is unlikely to be important, they stated. Lohmann, a former NYPD detective with expertise in narcotics enforcement, stated he additionally had severe misgivings about contributing to the unfold of what he referred to as a “gateway drug.”
The state regulation, handed in March, provides municipalities till Dec. 31 to decide out of retail gross sales. Lengthy Island municipalities together with Islip, Shelter Island and the Smithtown village of Nissequogue have accomplished so. They’ll decide again in at any time. The native legal guidelines don’t have an effect on private use of marijuana, which is authorized underneath the state regulation in most locations the place tobacco use is permitted, although impaired driving remains to be a criminal offense.
State officers have stated that legalization will create hundreds of jobs and generate $350 million in annual tax income, 3% of which is able to circulation to native municipalities.
It’s not clear, nonetheless, whether or not the promise of tax revenues will entice city residents and native officers in Smithtown.
The city board voted 5-0 in 2018 with robust public assist to ban hookah lounges and shops that promote digital cigarettes from working inside 1,500 toes of parks, colleges and locations of worship, and would seemingly place restrictions not less than as stringent on marijuana companies. That may “drastically cut back any [tax] income stream from any of these retail companies,” Wehrheim stated. He additionally stated the state laws left open questions on business regulation.
Lohmann was extra adamant.
“I spent seven years in narcotics within the metropolis within the top of the crack epidemic,” he stated. “I had a number of coaching courses by the DEA [federal Drug Enforcement Administration], and each single one I’ve taken, each single one, the fixed was that marijuana was a gateway drug to harder-use narcotics.”
The implications are generally deadly, he stated. “Day-after-day in Suffolk County and nearly each different day within the 4th Precinct, there’s a drug overdose.”
Lohmann referred to as the promise of a brand new public income stream “pie within the sky” considering, citing the expertise of Colorado, the place marijuana gross sales that started in 2014 resulted in lower-than-expected tax receipts.
David Falkowski, a Bridgehampton farmer who owns a hemp merchandise retailer and chairs the Lengthy Island chapter of the New York Hashish Growers and Processors Affiliation, stated business leaders count on laws to roll out in coming months. Detailed guidelines will assuage some issues in regards to the market, he stated.
“Hashish must be licensed,” he stated. “Product will likely be examined, tracked and traced, and other people will likely be checking for ID’s. None of that is occurring on the present black market.”