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Town posts marijuana survey results showing majority of respondents in favor of retail sales

More than 1,400 people who responded to Riverhead Town’s online survey on marijuana are, for the most part, largely in favor of allowing both retail sale of marijuana and on-site consumption in cafes and lounges.

The survey results were released by the town Thursday after residents were asked to weigh in before the town decides whether to opt out of a portion of the recent state legislation legalizing the recreational drug.

The results showed:

• A total 1,032 respondents, or 73.35%, said they support the sale of in-store cannabis in the Town of Riverhead. 

• As for the consumption of on-site cannabis in cafes or lounges, 61% said they support it, and about 39% did not. 

• Asked where they think a cannabis retail store in Riverhead Town should be, the top answer was in downtown, with 37%. “None of the above” was second, and about 22% said Route 58. 

According to the survey, 86% of the respondents said they were Riverhead Town residents while only 13.34% said they were business owners in Riverhead.

The complete survey results are available on the town’s website.

The state law legalizing marijuana only allows municipalities to opt out of retail sales and on-site consumption by Dec. 31. Marijuana otherwise is legal in New York State for recreational purposes.

Municipalities that opt out lose out on the 3% share of tax revenue generated by retail sale of marijuana.

The survey results also listed all of the comments received from respondents.

There were 817 comments on the retail and consumption questions, while there were 495 responses when asked for an address, with 916 skipping that question, which was optional.

“Some of them didn’t take the survey seriously, some of them did,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said at Wednesday’s Town Board meeting. A public hearing must be held as well, she said. 

While Town Board members have said they want the public’s feedback, Deputy Town Attorney Anne Marie Prudenti said the Town cannot call for a public vote on its own. Instead, a permissive referendum must be held.

This means that within 45 days of the enactment of the local law, if a petition opposing those provisions is submitted by 10% of the registered voters in the last gubernatorial election then a public vote can be set.