Featured Story

Board passes measure to establish guidelines for marijuana in Riverhead Town

The Riverhead Town Board voted 4-1 Tuesday to establish guidelines on where marijuana can and can’t be located in town, and what restrictions must be taken. 

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar cast the lone “no” vote. 

A former New York Police Department sergeant, Ms. Aguiar has voted against several marijuana-related measures since the state legalization of the drug two years ago. 

On Tuesday, Ms. Aguiar voted without commenting, but her husband, Paul Carr, also a retired NYPD officer, did speak against the measure. 

“I usually don’t respond to issues for obvious reasons, as the husband of the town supervisor,” Mr. Carr said. “I’m here on my own accord. However, I cannot in good conscience, as a resident of Riverhead, standby and not comment.

“I am sorry to break up the love fest with marijuana in Riverhead. I respect the opinions of the previous individuals who have spoken before the board in the past. I want to make a point. I spent seven years as a detective in the NYPD narcotics division and witnessed firsthand the destruction caused by the use of illegal drugs. Marijuana is not a victimless crime, or an exception.” 

Mr. Carr said the narcotics division conducted thousands of voluntary debriefings of drug users, and the majority stated they experimented with marijuana, which evolved into heavier drug use, such as cocaine heroin, crack and other drugs.

“Visitors should visit downtown to see the penguins in the aquarium, not to purchase or consume marijuana. I don’t want our town to be known as the marijuana capital of the world. In the word former first lady Nancy Reagan, simply say no to drugs.”

Mike Foley of Reeves Park, who said he’s smoked marijuana for 50 years, and who has been an advocate of legalized marijuana, disagreed. 

“The fact of the matter is, medical, conclusive evidence is that alcohol is far worse than marijuana is,” Mr. Foley said. “The gateway that the previous speaker spoke about has more to do with the dealers that they were getting the marijuana from.”

He said marijuana dealers would try to get people hooked on other drugs. 

As for the town’s legislation, Mr. Foley said, “I think some of the restrictions are improper but as I said at the last hearing, perfect should not be the enemy of good. This is a very good start.”

The proposal permits cannabis retail and on-site consumption in certain zoning categories that are mostly in downtown Riverhead and on Route 58. 

Those zones are: business center, shopping center, destination retail center, rural corridor, downtown center 1, downtown center 2, downtown center 3, hamlet center, rural corridor, village center, peconic river community and business F. 

The town’s zoning bans retail or on-site consumption of cannabis within 1,000 feel of a school, library or daycare center.

It also places bans within 500 feet of a town playground, community center, children’s amusement or place of worship. 

For hours of operation, the rules say retail establishments may be open to the public, aged 21 and up, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday. 

Most of the speakers at an Oct. 18 hearing on the measure were in favor of the town’s zoning measures. However, several of them also were interested in getting into the marijuana business.