‘Take your marijuana and go somewhere else’: Bay Ridge residents say no to proposed cannabis dispensaries

Bay Ridge Cannabis Meeting June 10
Bay Ridge residents voted down the applications for two legal cannabis dispensaries in the area at a recent Community Board 10 meeting.
Photo by Adam Daly

Two applications to operate legal cannabis dispensaries in Bay Ridge received a resounding no from the locals who showed up to a public hearing Monday, in what was a referendum on cannabis use in the neighborhood.

Community Board 10’s Police and Public Safety Committee passed a motion on June 10 recommending the disapproval of the two applicants’ request to operate adult-use cannabis dispensaries on 3rd Avenue because of their proximity to schools and houses of worship, following strong objection from those in attendance. 

A Bay Ridge resident of 30 years, Chase Landau, told the crowd at Monday’s meeting that he has to chase people away from his home everyday because they are smoking cannabis. 

“I can’t sit in my backyard without smelling it, I can’t walk out my door,” he said. “Imagine what we will have to do if they [the dispensaries] are on Third Avenue. This is not good for the community. It’s not good for families, our children or the future of Bay Ridge.” 

The committee’s motion will be presented to the full community board at its monthly meeting on June 20 before a full opinion is sent to the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). The approval and oversight body of the OCM, the Cannabis Control Board, will then review the recommendations of CB10 and the OCM before a final decision is issued on the two applications. 

For prospective cannabis retailers to operate legally they must be granted a permit, known as a CAURD (Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary) license, by the state OCM.

As part of the process for dispensaries to be granted a CAURD license, the community board in the locality is given 30 days to review their applications, make a decision and send any thoughts back to the state, which makes the ultimate decision.

Typically, community boards approve liquor license applications at the request of new establishments, but since the legalization of cannabis in the state, community boards have also been tasked with measuring if a proposed dispensary is far enough from schools and houses of worship to adhere to regulations.

Current cannabis laws state retail licensees cannot have a storefront within 500 feet of a school or within 200 feet of a house of worship.

In the case of the proposed dispensaries at 8412 and 8414 on 3rd Avenue, the Police and Public Safety Committee voted to disapprove the application because of its proximity to Home Sweet Home Child Day Care Center (less than 500 feet) and its close proximity to several schools and houses of worship (within 1,000 feet) including Bay Ridge Catholic, Holy Cross, DGK School, Adelphi, Fort Hamilton High School and P.S. 185.

(L) Audience members were brought to their feet several times by speakers against the dispensaries. (R) Assembly Member Alec Brook Krasny addresses the crowd.Photos by Adam Daly

The June 10 meeting at Dimitrios & Georgia Kaloidis Parochial School saw residents turn out in l droves, causing a last-minute change of venue to the school’s gym to facilitate the some 200 people who showed up — with sound system issues adding to the tension in the room.

Despite the proposed dispensaries technically being within the proximity regulations, residents decried that being within 1,000 feet of a school was still too close for comfort given school kids hang around the areas after school and that it would further “normalize drug use in the neighborhood.”

Proceedings throughout the meeting were regularly interrupted by the crowd who consistently let out cries of “we don’t want it,” interrupting the representatives from applicants RMAN Holdings LLC and Cannalicious LLC as they tried to answer the committee’s questions.

“Take your marijuana and go somewhere else,” Chairman of the Brooklyn Republican Party Richie Barsamian told the prospective licensees to a roar of applause from the crowd, encouraging them to protest in front of the dispensaries if the OCM approves the licenses.

His sentiments were shared by other speakers, including Assembly Member Alec Brook Krasny, who was the only elected official present at the meeting, and Vito LaBella, who is running against Andrew Gounardes in the Senate Race to represent the 26th District.

LaBella told the crowd — many of whom were expressing frustration at CB10 and its leaders — that the community board is in an “untenable position” as they have “zero authority tonight to stop this.”

“Everything they do tonight is advisory and they’re getting the most of your anger instead of the people who are responsible for this,” said LaBella, advocating for the criminalization, on a violation level, of the public use of cannabis.

During the meeting, a poll was taken of the audience asking who smokes cannabis — in which one man raised his hand in the 200-strong crowd.

One young man who took to the podium to speak in favor of legal cannabis use was shouted down by the audience for wearing an N95 mask at the microphone, unable to finish his speech due to the boos bellowing from the crowd.

There are currently nine legal dispensaries operating in Brooklyn, none of which are in Bay Ridge. But the neighborhood is home to some of the roughly 2,800 illegal weed shops that have proliferated across the city ever since Albany lawmakers moved to legalize cannabis in 2021. The illegal stores were able to take root due to the state’s slow rollout of licenses to sellers who applied for them through the mandated process.

The city and state has since ramped up its battle with illegal smoke shops, culminating in “Operation Padlock to Protect” that has seen shops shuttered across the city.