A narrow majority of speakers called on the Mount Kisco Village Board last week to opt out of marijuana dispensaries and consumption lounges pointing to concerns about underage use and spurring harder drug consumption.
About 10 members of the public weighed in on the possibility of retail sales in the village during the opening session of the live-streamed hearing on June 7.
Retired Mount Kisco police officer Lou Terlizzi said he was concerned that if marijuana sales were allowed in the village there was the chance it could fall into the hands of minors and have deleterious effects on the still-developing brain.
Terlizzi also worried that there was no test yet developed like the breathalyzer to help determine if a motorist is suspected of having used marijuana. It would also put officers into an awkward position during traffic stops.
“Is having more people under the influence of a mind-altering drug what we want from our village?” Terlizzi asked. “I don’t think it makes Mount Kisco stronger or better.”
Parent Allison Mastrogiacomo said with young children at home she doesn’t want to have to deal with having marijuana sales within the village, especially as they get older.
“I have small kids and it is proven that if you have more access teens will use, teens are more prone to addiction because their brains are not developed yet,” said Mastrogiacomo.
Former mayor Michael Cindrich, who also is retired from law enforcement, said without a test for driving under the influence of marijuana should be enough for the board to opt out.
“I don’t want to see the village become the destination location while every other community decides to opt out,” Cindrich said.
Hector Rodriguez, representing Mount Kisco Partners in Prevention, a local drug prevention organization, said the Marijuana Taxation and Regulation Act allows officials in municipalities that opt out to change their minds and later allow for the sales. However, if Mount Kisco were to permit sales and/or lounges from the outset, it could not reverse its decision.
However, the pro-marijuana sales crowd was represented during the hearing. Resident Andrew Kwon said many respected people use marijuana, including attorneys and doctors and some of his friends who are also professionals.
“I think there’s this perception of it being a predictor of criminal activity or anything of that sort,” Kwon said. “It will not be the case.”
Dr. Lynn Parodneck, a medical marijuana physician who practices in the village, said research has shown that cannabis is no longer considered a gateway drug and does not lead to further dependence.
Pete McLaughlin, who works with Parodneck, said allowing retail sales will take away the black-market dealers and allows for regulation and the village to generate tax revenue.
“I think there’s an opportunity to control it, where it comes from, who uses it when they use it and takes this money away from a black-market program of cartel-sponsored (dealers),” he said. “That really doesn’t benefit anyone except the criminal element.”
According to the law, there would be a 13 percent sales tax on marijuana sales, with 9 percent going to the state, 3 percent to the municipality and 1 percent to the county.
Mayor Gina Picinich said regardless of what the board decides, people will have a right to possess marijuana and use it, although it is not allowed where smoking is prohibited. Residents would also be able to grow up to a certain number of plants but would have to obtain a license.
The board adjourned the public hearing until its next meeting.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/