Advise against letting marijuana stores open
The Putnam County Legislature’s Health Committee on June 23 approved sending a letter to towns and villages advising them to opt out of accepting marijuana retail stores and smoking lounges — before it’s too late.
New York legalized recreational use of pot this year, with adults 21 and over able to possess up to 3 ounces and the state authorizing licensed businesses where the drug can be bought and smoked. The law gives cities, towns and villages until Dec. 31 to opt out of permitting such businesses within their boundaries.
Because counties are barred from setting marijuana policy, regulation “is ultimately up to the municipalities,” said Legislator Amy Sayegh of Mahopac.
Speaking as chair of the Health Committee, Sayegh said that “opting out, in my opinion, would be the most prudent.” Adopted by 3-0 vote, the letter she proposed warns that a municipality that fails to opt out automatically opts in and “will not be able to opt out in the future.”
Citing scholarly articles, the letter states that young adults living within 4 miles of a marijuana store are more likely to use the drug, use it heavily and have more problems as a result, and that prices of homes within roughly a third of a mile from a store fall by 3 to 4 percent, on average, compared to those in “control” areas.
The Health Committee letter cites three recent “research findings from communities in other states that have marijuana dispensaries”:
Youth aged 13 to 17 [in Washington state] living close to dispensaries and exposed to marijuana advertising were more likely to report their intention to use (Journal of Health Communication, 2020);
Young adults [18-22] living [in Los Angeles County] within a 4-mile radius of a dispensary are more likely to use marijuana, more likely to use it heavily, and experience more problems related to its (Journal of Addictions, 2020); and
Home prices within a 36-mile area [in Washington state] of a new dispensary fall by 3 to 4 percent on average relative to control areas. (Regional Science and Urban Economics, 2021).
The letter urged local officials to approach the issue carefully. “New York is essentially forcing municipalities that do not opt out to live with the unknown consequences of cannabis legalization forever,” it declared.