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The State Office of Cannabis Management will host a “Cannabis Conversations” virtual event for the Long Island region on Thursday, Feb. 17 from 6 to 7 p.m.

The meeting is one in a series of virtual “conversations” scheduled across New York through the end of February. There is one for each region and a statewide Spanish language meeting on Feb. 21.

The meetings will be hosted by Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright, who will discuss how the state law legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana is a foundation for the new cannabis industry in New York “with a focus on health, safety and delivering social and economic justice to undo the harms of over-policing during the decades-long prohibition of cannabis.”

This series, a “virtual community engagement campaign” is the first of what Wright, speaking at yesterday’s Cannabis Control Board meeting, said will be “many, many more to come.” Wright said he hopes future “conversations” series can be held in person in each of New York’s 10 regions.

Registration is required to obtain a link for the virtual meeting. Registration links to each of the upcoming meetings are posted on the Office of Cannabis Management’s Eventbrite website.

Register for the Long Island regional meeting here.

Marijuana retail sales and on-site consumption has been largely embraced by municipalities across the state, according to data provided at yesterday’s board meeting by Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander.

Fewer than one-third of towns and villages statewide have opted out of the retail sales dispensaries and lounges program, Alexander said, and 10% of cities have opted out, he said.

“More than 11 million New Yorkers live in cities, and only 118,000 live in cities that have opted out,” Alexander said.

Municipalities that have opted out can opt in at any time, he noted. Localities that opt out cannot otherwise prohibit any other activity authorized by the law, including possession, use, home cultivation and delivery services.

On the East End, Riverhead and Southampton towns are alone among the five towns to allow retail sales and lounges — though many of the area’s villages, including Greenport, Westhampton Beach and Sag Harbor, chose to opt out.

Riverhead marijuana committee’s second meeting set

With recreational marijuana dispensaries and lounges coming in the future — after the state adopts still-to-be-developed regulations for the industry — Riverhead has begun to consider where dispensaries and lounges should be permitted. The state law allows the town to adopt its own “time, place and manner” rules.

The town has created a marijuana committee, headed by Councilman Ken Rothwell, to begin to develop those rules. The committee has met once and has scheduled a second meeting for Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. in Riverhead Town Hall.

Rothwell said this week the meeting will not be live-streamed on the town’s website or the Optimum government access channel due to budget constraints. In-person attendance in the Town Hall meeting room is limited to 26 people, but the meeting will be accessible via Zoom. Interested persons should email the town board coordinator for a Zoom link.

At the last meeting, the committee agreed to begin its deliberation of where dispensaries and lounges should be permitted or prohibited by having town staff develop a map depicting all schools, parks, playgrounds, day care centers, public buildings and spaces, as well as places of worship. The committee then will look at designating certain off-limit areas based on proximity to those land uses.

-Alek Lewis contributed reporting

Editor’s note: The story has been amended to add information about in-person and Zoom attendance for the town marijuana committee meeting on Feb. 2.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.