Supervisor Bosworth talks North Hempstead’s marijuana policies

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Supervisor Bosworth talks North Hempstead’s marijuana policies
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Floral Park North End Civic Association President Tom Holz. (Photo by Jed Hendrixson)

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth is open to potential adjustments to some of the town’s recent preemptive laws regulating marijuana.

At a Floral Park North End Civic Association meeting last Thursday night, Bosworth said the board acted in the interest of many constituents by passing a trio of local laws zoning, restricting and banning marijuana locations, but that she was willing to revisit them in the future.

“If the need for more [medical dispensaries] increases, we can go back and revisit the law,” Bosworth said of the second law, restricting the number of medical marijuana dispensaries to two in the town.

According to Bosworth, that law — one of three passed by the town regulating marijuana —was spurred by a chain of events started by a single question.

Following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that two medical marijuana dispensaries would open on Long Island, one in Lake Success and one in Riverhead, Bosworth said the town board, though it had no role in the decision, recognized the potential need for the medical use of marijuana.

But, Bosworth added, when a second dispensary location was announced for North Hempstead in Carle Place and rumors circulated about the first relocating from Lake Success to a more prominent location in Manhasset, she questioned why.

“So, I asked, ‘why are all these stores popping up in the town?” she said.

According to Bosworth, when the board reached out to the commissioner of the state Health Department to ask about the new locations, they found out that no additional locations had opened in Suffolk County since the Riverbed location and there was no talk of dispensaries opening in the towns of Hempstead or Oyster Bay, despite the two towns’ larger areas and populations.

This led Bosworth and the board, she said, to consider taking measures to zone and regulate both medical and recreational marijuana in the town.

Based on rumors about potential legalization of recreational marijuana in the state, which would eventually be corroborated in Cuomo’s State of the State address, Bosworth said she and the board believed the cannabis company MedMen was relocating from its Lake Success location to Northern Boulevard in anticipation of recreational legalization.

Following a meeting with the company in early October, area civic leaders said they had suspicions that MedMen was seeking a more visible storefront in anticipation of marijuana legalization that would give it a broader customer base.

Aside from MedMen, no other companies have vocalized plans to open recreational facilities in North Hempstead.

Bosworth and the town board would eventually pass three local laws regulating and restricting marijuana in the town.

The first law, passed in November, prevents medical dispensaries from operating as retail locations if the recreational use of marijuana is legalized.

The second law, passed in December,  restricts the number of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed in the town to two, but Bosworth said last Thursday night she would be willing to consider raising that limit.

“Although there’s certainly a need for it, there must be people in the rest of Nassau County that need access to this kind of service,” Bosworth said. 

The third law was approved by the board in January and banned the sale of recreational marijuana in unincorporated areas of North Hempstead.

Bosworth reiterated sentiments from the three hearings at which the laws were passed that the board was acting in the interests of its constituents in taking early action on marijuana legislation.

Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi commended Bosworth for the laws, including the ban, citing the limited actions that villages like his could take in preparation of potential legalization.

The state’s option to opt-out of the legal state sale of recreational marijuana will only apply to counties, according to Bosworth and Longobardi.

Floral Park, like other local villages, voted unanimously to restrict any retail dispensaries to particular zoning districts rather than outright ban the sale, because that ban may be challenged once the substance is legalized.

“If we ban it, we could be challenged and we could lose,” Longobardi said. The zoning measure in Floral Park is “essentially a ban,” restricting where stores can open to a very small area.

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