Riverhead group struggles to find locations for recreational marijuana dispensaries

A Riverhead advisory group is struggling to find locations for recreational marijuana stores in their town.

Pot dispensaries cannot be within 500 feet of a school or within 200 feet of a church so Riverhead town officials are working on figuring out locations where it can and cannot be sold.

Riverhead Councilman Ken Rothwell says the town is getting ready to safely allow the sale of recreational marijuana, but the state’s Office of Cannabis Management still has not provided ground rules for the industry.

He says that there will not be any retail locations or consumption places in the town by Jan. 1.

“I don’t really foresee that you’re going to have any directives until the springtime,” Rothwell says. “But we can’t sit idle and wait for that. When the applications come in, we will have to process them within 30 days, according to the state. Therefore, we need to be prepared.”

Rothwell voted against opting in, but since the decision has been made, he wants the town to be ready when the state gives the go ahead.

Native tribes on Long Island are starting the process early because they are not bound by state regulations.

The tribal leader from the nearby Shinnecock Nation says they are hoping to start distributing recreational marijuana by the summer.

“Our process has taken a lot shorter than New York state’s process,” says Bryan Polite. “I would hope we could proceed forward and by the summertime have some meaningful sales.”

Riverhead recently joined Babylon and Brookhaven by opting in for retail marijuana sales.

Sales for recreational weed will be banned in Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Smithtown, Islip, Shelter Island and East Hampton.

News 12 reached out to the state’s Office of Cannabis Management for comment, but did not hear back as of 10 p.m. Wednesday.

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