A New Round of Votes from CB5’s Cannabis Committee

By Celia Bernhardt | [email protected]

Community Board 5’s Liquor License and Cannabis Committee heard again from cannabis vendor-hopefuls last week, each applying for a dispensary license at a specific location. The Committee discussed six different proposed locations and voted on a series of recommendations for the full board.

Three locations received unanimous votes of objection. 64-40 Myrtle Avenue in Glendale was deemed too close to Saint’s Church—state guidelines require dispensaries to be located at least 200 feet away from houses of worship. 66-74 Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood garnered concern about its location approximately 500 feet from Benninger Playground. The committee also emphasized that the merchant hoping to open up shop was a no-show, which didn’t help his case. 55-14 Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood was voted down on grounds that it lies within 200 feet of a Synagogue. 

CB5’s Liquor License and Cannabis Committee

78-10 Cypress Avenue in Glendale received a rare unanimous vote of no objection from the committee due to its location in a manufacturing district. 

Votes were split on two locations. 66-33 Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood pulled three no-objection votes and two objection votes, making the Committee’s official recommendation one of non-objection. 71-05 Myrtle Avenue in Glendale brought in two no-objection votes and three votes to object, making the verdict an objection. Members objected on the grounds that the location sits not far from Forte Prep charter high school. Apple Maps records the distance between the two as 600 feet, 100 feet over the mandated distance between dispensaries and schools. 

A location from the previous round of voting, 70-24 Myrtle Avenue, was just down the block from 71-05 Myrtle Avenue but sat closer to Forte Prep—it was shot down by the Board for its under-500-feet proximity to the school. Multiple community voices had also expressed concern about it neighboring a McDonalds where local students often hang out. The new 71-05 location is just 150 feet away from 70-24, according to Apple Maps.

Elizabeth De La Cruz, a Glendale resident and grandmother who voiced opposition to cannabis dispensaries in previous meetings, brought up concerns about 71-05 Myrtle Avenue during the public comment period before the vote. 

“The last time I spoke, at that time it was the facility by McDonald’s where the bank used to be,” De la Cruz said, referring to 70-24 Myrtle. “So I was surprised to find out today that this meeting was on and it was again, instead of by the bank, the facility was across the street [at] the Mobile station. We still have the same problem. We have children from [P.S.] 119 walking, they walk 78th Avenue, right into Cooper, down Cooper, right down the street where the facility is supposed to be opening up. McDonald’s is there, McDonald’s is not moving. I take my grandson to McDonald’s a lot.”

Diego McCleary, a member of the Board, offered a different perspective when he took to the mic—one rarely expressed at CB5’s meetings. 

“Nobody really speaks up for cannabis at these things, so I have long hair and a beard, I’ll do it,” he joked. 

“Cannabis doesn’t kill anybody. And I get all this is new. But the level of scrutiny being given to cannabis is way out of proportion to the social harm of legal cannabis,” McCleary said, emphasizing the far higher death rate from alcohol. 

“I think we should consider every legal cannabis application and approve it,” McCleary continued. “This is about cannabis for adults. It’s about making it safe, taxed, regulated, and repercussions in case there’s anybody selling it to kids or anything like that. Now, there’s liquor stores within how many feet of a school and stuff like that—nobody’s making a big fuss. There’s bars that sponsor kids’ sports teams. Nobody’s making a fuss, right?”

The board is set to vote on whether to adopt the committee’s recommendations during their December 13th meeting. The board will send their ultimate recommendations to the state, which makes the final decision in granting or not granting licenses.

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