The Village of Sag Harbor has become the 10th East End municipality to pass legislation opting out of allowing newly legalized recreational marijuana to be sold within its borders.
Four village board members approved a resolution prohibiting pot shops and cannabis cafes from opening in the community, with Mayor James Larocca saying a fifth trustee, who was absent, also backed the measure.
“The product would still be legal to use, regardless of whether we opt out,” Trustee Aidan Corish explained during a public hearing on the issue shortly before the vote.
New York State legalized recreational marijuana possession and consumption in March, but towns and villages have until December 31 to decide whether to opt out of allowing pot sales. Growing and possessing marijuana also remains legal in the village despite it opting out of allowing sales.
The towns of Shelter Island and East Hampton have opted out along with the villages of East Hampton, Dering Harbor, Greenport, Quogue, Southampton Village, Sagaponack, and Westhampton Beach. The Town of Riverhead rejected an opt-out proposal, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the town has no plans to vote on the issue, and the village of North Haven said it declined to take action since it has no commercial entities other than one marina. The Town of Southold is scheduled to vote on the matter Tuesday and it is unclear if the Village of Westhampton Dunes has taken up the issue.
During the Sag Harbor hearing, most speakers backed the opt-out plan, citing concerns that children would have increased access to marijuana. The mayor said he was swayed by that argument, while the trustees were reluctant to allow sales without knowing what the state regulations will be.
Proponents said since it’s legal, the village should make it more convenient for residents.
“I just don’t want this to be yet another product that I have to go to Riverhead to buy,” Daniel Maeder told the board. “I’m going to smoke just as much pot whether it’s here or not.”
After the vote, an opt-out opponent asked the board to spare petitioners from having to gather signatures, especially during a rise in COVID-19 cases, to hold a referendum letting voters decide if the village should opt back in. The mayor said he would discuss it in the New Year.