Amid Statewide Debate, PV Pauses Marijuana Sales

Putnam Valley town board members aren’t high on the idea of recreational marijuana being sold in their town.

As a result, the town board is expected to vote through a one-year moratorium that would prevent the sale of marijuana and paraphinalia connected to the recreational drug at its meeting this Wednesday. During a public hearing about the proposal last week, no residents came forward either in support or opposition to the measure. New York State has yet to legalize marijuana as state lawmakers continue to grapple with the positives and negatives of legalization.

The moratorium was introduced by Councilman Steve Mackay with other town board members in support of it. Mackay said recreational marijuana out there now is not the same marijuana that existed in 1960s. Marijuana is more potent today, he noted.

“I hope the county will also pursue this on a county level,” Mackay said.

If the state legalizes the drug, there is a possibility that either counties or local municipal governments could opt out of selling in within their borders. Putnam Valley is the first town in the county to move forward with a moratorium on marijuana sales.

Supervisor Sam Oliverio said during the meeting while the state hasn’t legalized marijuana yet, he expects it be approved in the near future as other states move to do so.

In an interview, Oliverio said in order to be proactive, the town wants to delay allowing the sale of the drug in town if and when legalization is passed. The town wants to investigate where would be the proper locations in town for the sale of marijuana, Oliverio said, including what regulations need to be put in place.

The moratorium would begin this month and run until April 17, 2020. The moratorium could also be extended if necessary, Oliverio said.

“We’re very concerned about this,” Oliverio said. “We’re concerned not enough research has been done.”

Councilman Louie Luongo said if legalization was passed during the state budget season this year, it would have been thrown into the laps of local government officials immediately. The moratorium will give town officials time “to figure out some things.” Councilwoman Wendy Whetsel said it would give officials time to see how the sale of cannabis is working in other states that have legalized the drug.

Councilwoman Jackie Annabi said during the meeting that the moratorium was similar to the resolution the town board put forward putting a pause of the creation of vape shops in town.

In a statement, Annabi said while the state might pass this, the town board would be in sharp disagreement over legalizing marijuana.

“Although we cannot prevent the (state) law from passing, what we can do is protect our community the best we know how by proposing a moratorium to prevent any shops to sell marijuana here in Putnam Valley,” Annabi said in an email. “These products are harmful to our youth, our community and our environment. We can only hope other communities and counties will follow suit.”