South Brooklyn lawmakers rally against proposed legal cannabis dispensary in Bay Ridge

Assembly Member Michael Tannousis hosted a press conference alongside Assembly Member Alec Brook-Krasny and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis on June 24 outside the proposed site of a legal marijuana dispensary.
Photo courtesy of the office of Assembly Member Michael Tannousis

Three southern Brooklyn representatives rallied Monday to urge the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to deny the application for a proposed cannabis dispensary in Bay Ridge, after the local community board voted against it last week.

Republican Assembly Members Michael Tannousis and Alec Brook-Krasny, along with Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, led the June 24 rally outside the site of the proposed dispensary, the former Pilo Arts hair salon on Third Avenue. The location includes three storefronts.

“This is the worst possible location for a marijuana dispensary,” Tannousis told the crowd of about 50 people. “There are 8,000 students within a block-and-a-half radius. There are five schools and two houses of worship. Children are walking back and forth on a daily basis here.”

In a joint letter to the OCM, the lawmakers argued that a dispensary in this area would increase minors’ exposure to cannabis, despite existing regulations and age restrictions.

“The opening of this establishment would be a disruption to the nearby schools and would interfere with the sanctity of the nearby houses of worship,” the letter reads. “In consideration of these factors, we urge you to deny the opening of this cannabis dispensary at this location.”

For cannabis retailers to operate legally, they must obtain a Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license from the state OCM. The local community board then has 30 days to review and provide feedback on the applications before the Cannabis Control Board then reviews OCM and community board recommendations before issuing a final decision.

The Office of Cannabis Management could not provide a timeline for its review process when contacted by Brooklyn Paper.

Community Board 10 voted on June 20 to recommend disapproving the application by RMAN Holdings LLC to open a dispensary at 8412 Third Ave., citing proximity to schools and houses of worship.

This decision followed a heated June 10 public meeting where residents voiced strong opposition to the dispensary and the recreational use of cannabis in their neighborhood. At the board’s Police and Public Safety Committee, the crowd shouted down any speakers who attempted to voice an opposing opinion, including the representatives of the dispensaries.

Current cannabis laws prohibit retail licensees from having a storefront within 500 feet of a school or 200 feet of a house of worship. Although RMAN Holdings LLC’s application technically meets these legal requirements, the board raised concerns about its proximity to Home Sweet Home Child Day Care Center (less than 500 feet), which is not classified as a school.

Additionally, the site is within 1,000 feet of several schools and houses of worship, including Bay Ridge Catholic, Holy Cross, DGK School, Adelphi, Fort Hamilton High School, and P.S. 185.

The board also rejected an application from Cannalicious LLC, also seeking to operate on Third Avenue, for similar reasons.

“With the community board already voting against this proposal it should be clear that New Yorkers do not want these dispensaries in their communities within walking distance of their schools,” Brook-Krasny said Monday. “Minors have already been far too exposed to cannabis in recent years and approving this new facility would only further this dangerous trend.”

Protesters rally outside councilman Justin Brannan’s district office.Justin Brannan/X

After the June 24 rally dispersed, several protesters marched to the district office of Democratic Council Member Justin Brannan. Reacting to the protest on X (formerly Twitter), Brannan said the conduct of the protestors was unacceptable.

“While we may disagree (I support marijuana legalization) and we respect your right to protest, pounding on the windows of our office, harassing my staff, spitting at our security cameras, and trying to seal our doors shut is not acceptable behavior for concerned citizens,” he posted.

Both applications will now go back to OCM’s Cannabis Control Board, which has final approval over the two proposed dispensaries.