Editorial: Medical marijuana moratorium is misguided


Note to all East End residents seeking treatment for cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, arthritis, lupus and diabetes: Riverhead Town wants you to score your pot elsewhere.

The latest misguided proposal from the Town Board that previously brought you the boo ban and plans to issue regulations protecting the public from the dangers of turtles and hummingbirds is a possible moratorium that would prevent a medical marijuana dispensary from opening in Riverhead.

This in a town that already boasts more than a dozen pharmacies carrying highly addictive prescription medications that have done more to pave the way for the local heroin epidemic than marijuana ever could. Not to mention more than a dozen fast food restaurants — including three McDonald’s — that are offering fare sure to be more of a shock to your system than an approved natural medicine grown in the ground.

What’s even scarier — we’d say funnier if it weren’t true — is that the board is putting forward concern about traffic heading to the dispensary as the reason for the proposed ban; as if cars would be lined up for miles to pick up medical marijuana and get their bongs autographed by Cheech Marin.

In the past few years this town has approved construction of a Lowe’s, a Dick’s Sporting Goods, a Costco and a Walmart, all stores capable of attracting thousands of customers on any given day. At a grand opening celebration for the town’s latest and greatest Walmart, Supervisor Sean Walter said: “Thousands of people will visit this Walmart and have the opportunity to see what Riverhead is all about.”

Yes, low-cost goods and low-paying jobs.

There is a need for a medical marijuana dispensary in Suffolk County and the state has granted a license for one to open here. Riverhead is a central location and the gateway to the East End. It only makes sense that the dispensary be located here.

It would be a shame to let traffic — or overly conservative and archaic views of what medical marijuana is — get in the way of improved health.

Photo: The site of a proposed medical marijuana dispensary on Route 58 in Riverhead, the former home of Blockbuster Video. (Credit: Grant Parpan)