A Community Board 5 committee rejected three applicants seeking adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses on Wednesday, Jan. 3—while deciding not to block four others from opening.
The board’s Cannabis Committee – which reviews applications in the Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, and Middle Village neighborhoods – was tasked with weighing in on seven proposed locations for cannabis storefronts and found four of them in compliance with the New York State Office of Cannabis Management’s standards.
The outcome of the meeting comes after the committee was met with strong community opposition against legal cannabis dispensaries, with many residents making clear they don’t want them in their neighborhood. The issue has percolated for more than six months.
The committee members peppered the applicants with questions as to the cannabis products they plan to sell, their security measures, whether they plan to deliver, and overall compliance with the OCM’s guidelines. Specifically, the committee inquired as to how close the storefronts would be from schools, houses of worship, and community centers, which include parks.
The potential sites for adult-use cannabis dispensaries given the go-ahead from the cannabis committee include 83-34 Woodhaven Blvd., in Glendale, 60-42 Myrtle Ave., and 465 Onderdonk Ave., in Ridgewood, as well an applicant filing to open a microbusiness at 58-45 47th St. in Maspeth.
However, other proposed locations on the agenda failed to obtain committee approval due to issues discussed at prior meetings.
The committee opposed an application for 70-24 Myrtle Ave, in Glendale — the old Capitol One Bank next to the McDonald’s on Myrtle Avenue — since the proposed location is within 500 feet of a school and is on a busy throughway used by families and children. The community voiced its opposition to this location at previous meetings.
Meanwhile, the application for a storefront at 88-50 Myrtle Ave, in Glendale, was rejected, primarily due to the owner not making the meeting and failing to answer the board’s questionnaire. Having considered the no-show, the committee also moved to oppose the site due to its proximity to Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The applicant for 64-29 Myrtle Ave. in Glendale, another no-show for the night, also failed to respond to the committee. The site is currently being used as a smoke shop under the name The Plug Smoke Shop, which appears to be part of a chain of stores.
A Plug Smoke Shop in Richmond Hill was the scene of a shooting death of a 20-year-old in Richmond Hill last year.
The Plug Smoke Shop application for the Glendale location came under fire from District Manager Gary Giordano who said the operators fail to take the board and the state’s licensing requirements seriously.
“This is just one of those ridiculous applications and even worse, it seems quite likely that they are selling cannabis now without a license,” Giordano said.
Furthermore, the proposed location, across the street from Saint’s Church, is well within the OCM 200ft rule from a house of worship and therefore doesn’t meet OCM’s guidelines.
Additionally, an applicant looking for a storefront at 56-34 Myrtle Ave in Ridgewood formally withdrew a request for a license, according to the committee. Another site on 54-10 Flushing Ave., in Maspeth, wasn’t considered by the board since its application didn’t get submitted to OCM in time.
Diego Leclery, a community member who called for the committee to be flexible in its decision making, spoke again on what he believes is a disproportional level of scrutiny against the product. Leclery posed a hypothetical situation to the committee in hopes of having members see cannabis businesses in a different light.
“What if there were 22 unregistered liquor stores on Myrtle Avenue instead of 22 unregistered cannabis stores?” Lecleary said, using a hypothetical number to illustrate his point. “Would we stand in the way of a regulated licensed liquor store opening, or a liquor establishment? Probably not.”
The full board will vote on the applications on Jan. 10, with the committee’s findings likely to influence the vote. The board vote is merely advisory, with the state making the ultimate decision.