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Queens elected officials voice concerns over cannabis dispensary proximity to schools

(Clockwise from top l.): Council Member Joann Ariola, Sen. Joe Addabbo, Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar, Council Member Robert Holden (File photos)

Oct. 19, 2023 By Czarinna Andres and Anthony Medina

Queens elected officials have united to formally express their concerns over proposed adult-use retail dispensary license applications for storefronts in Glendale and Maspeth, citing the potential risks posed by their proximity to educational institutions.

In a letter written on Monday, Oct. 16, addressed to the New York State Cannabis Control Board, a coalition of local Queens elected officials — including Council Member Robert Holden, State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., Council Member Joann Ariola, and state Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar — voiced their strong opposition to a retail dispensary license application, proposed for 70-24 Myrtle Ave. in Glendale.

The legislators insist that the proximity of the proposed dispensary to Forte Prep High School, at 69-26 Cooper Ave. in Glendale, is situated less than 500 feet away— a parameter that is clearly stated in the Office of Cannabis Management eligibility critiera.

Additionally, the locations of P.S. 91 and P.S./I.S. 119 schools, also in Glendale, further heightened the lawmakers’ apprehension.

“We firmly believe that establishing an adult-use retail dispensary close to our local schools sends a conflicting message to our youth about the accessibility and normalization of cannabis use,” the letter reads. “It poses potential risks related to increased exposure and accessibility for our students, not to mention the increase in traffic and congestion that a retail location would bring to an already busy area during school hours.”

While the legislators mentioned that they acknowledged and respected New York state’s decision to legalize adult-use cannabis, they also asserted their duty to ensure that the implementation of this burgeoning industry aligned with community values and safeguarded the well-being of youth.

In a separate letter also addressed to the New York State Cannabis Control Board, Holden expressed his concerns over the adult-use retail dispensary license applications for 63-09 Flushing Ave. by Cali Happy Realty Corp. and 64-01 Grand Ave. by Buoy9 Corp., in Maspeth.

Holden also highlighted the proximity of these proposed establishments to key educational centers in the district, including Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy at 61-17 Grand Ave. and the Mosaic Pre-K Center at 56-01 61st St. in Maspeth.

He strongly urged the New York State Cannabis Control Board to prioritize the well-being of the community and reject the adult-use retail dispensary license applications by Cali Happy Realty Corp. and Buoy9 Corp.

Both sets of letters emphasized the importance of striking a balance between the expansion of the adult-use cannabis industry and the well-being and values of the community.

At the latest Community Board 5 meeting, discussions regarding new adult-use retail cannabis applications were also addressed, with equal concern over the quality of store owners and proximity from nearby schools.

Queens Post has sent an inquiry to OCM and is currently waiting for a response.

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