The committee unanimously voted against the three applications after listening to concerns from the public, responses from the two parties representing separate dispensary applications and questions asked by committee members.
Given the community’s response to an application from a conditional adult-use retail dispensary (CAURD) licensee in past months, the committee held its meeting inside Christ the King High School at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 1.
At the top of the meeting, committee members informed the public that all three applications for the location proposed dispensary at 56-40 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood were withdrawn.
Moving forward into the night, the applicant for 70-24 Myrtle Ave. located next to a McDonalds in Glendale, spoke to the committee regarding the dispensary location.
Masood Weish, the owner and manager of the establishment, spoke about his experience as a business owner, and a real estate investor and pointed to the illegal pot shops as a reason for the product being distributed.
Regardless of the circumstances, Weish said adult-use dispensaries were here to stay and they would follow all the guidelines from the New York State Office of Cannabis Management.
“I believe in my heart that is a great thing that the state is doing this.” Weish said.
Afterward, committee members asked Weish about signage, how products would be advertised and the dispensary’s proximity to other establishments, including the schools of Redeemer Lutheran, and P.S. 91.
When confronted with a question from the committee on the distance of the dispensary from nearby schools — Redeemer Lutheran, now the location of Forte Preparatory Academy, is within 500 feet of the dispensary’s proposed location — Weish did not confirm the exact distance of the dispensary from the location, but did go on to say that, “if it is, then we wouldn’t accept it (the location) ourselves.”
The following cannabis dispensary applicant to speak was Bryan Whalen, who discussed the proposed location on 64-01 Grand Ave. Whalen said he owned a home for 16 years in Maspeth and lived on Dry Harbor Road. Whalen said he was brought into the cannabis industry by learning about the product to help his wife, who suffers from Lupis.
“I’ve done extensive reading on the products that my wife takes not for further debilitate her arthritis. She has tremendous problems sleeping, so she takes CBD, THC and CBN,” Whalen said.
Whalen, too, pointed to the problems with illegal smoke shops selling cannabis products and the benefits of the state’s program.
In both presentations, the dispensary applicants mentioned following the guidelines provided by the New York State Office of Cannabis Management.
But much of the concern expressed by committee members was once again the dispensary’s proximity to schools and other nearby children’s institutions and churches — which are stated in the guidelines for dispensary storefront locations on the OCM website.
St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy of Queens, Martin Luther School and the Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church are blocks away from the location on 64-01 Grand Ave.
Board members were concerned over the dispensary applicants’ inability to share the exact distance from schools and religious institutions.
At the portion of the night given to the public to share their thoughts on the applicants, strong words were shared against cannabis and the applicants seeking a retail storefront.
“I think it’s ridiculous that you want to open something in an area where all these children are,” said Vincent Caruso, who serves as vice chair on the board of directors of St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy.
“We do not need this,” said Andre Barragan, a father of two children, Navy veteran and Maspeth resident. “I unfortunately call it filth. I think it’s a venom and I unfortunately say that it grows in our society. We don’t need it — not one bit, not one iota of it.”
”I just want to make it clear we’re against this totally. It’s too close to schools, too close to everything else, and we don’t want you here,” said Daniel Kurzyna, chief of staff for Council Member Robert Holden.
Late last month, elected officials voiced their concerns with OCM regarding proposed cannabis dispensary sites.
Holden had sent a letter to the New York State Cannabis Control Board in opposition to a proposed adult-use retail dispensary application for 66-74 Fresh Pond Rd. in Ridgewood. The council member’s letter states the proximity of the proposed site remains too close to P.S. 88Q, I.S. 93Q, P.S. 71Q, Notre Dame Catholic Academy and Little Einstein Daycare.
Speakers regarding the dispensary application for the location next to the McDonalds on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale also had the chance to say a few words in opposition of the proposed site.
“The bottom line is, there is zero convenience for anyone on that block. And if you want to try to convince people that everything is real good, and it’s more expensive, everything else. Tell that to someone else,” said Bob Monahan, president of the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council.
“I also served as the principal at the Forte Prep Middle School at Elmhurst for the last six years and the number of vapes that I’ve had to take off of students, the number of students who come in with paraphernalia advertising marijuana has increased so much in the last six years,” said Justin Smith, the chief schools officer at Forte Prep, the school which is located at 69-26 Cooper Ave. in Glendale.
After the remarks from the public, the committee forwarded a motion to oppose the proposed locations for dispensaries at 63-09 Flushing Ave., 64-01 Grand Ave. and 70-24 Myrtle Ave. The committee opposed the applications unanimously.
During their deliberations, a committee member commented one of the applicant’s demeanor through the public speaker portion of the meeting and asked them to leave if they didn’t want to hear the thoughts of the community at large. Weish, applying for 70-24 Myrtle Ave., could be seen laughing while members of the public spoke, and making comments, although not allowed.
The committee’s vote will be shared at the board meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 8, when the board will then make its final decision and recommendation. The general board meeting will be held at Christ the King High School.