Public hearing: Six speakers oppose, two support cannabis businesses in Village of Pelham



Cannabis flower, sativa strain.

Six residents opposed allowing cannabis businesses in the Village of Pelham while two came out in favor during public hearings Tuesday at the board of trustees meeting.

The hearings were on two proposed local laws that would, if adopted, ban retail cannabis shops and on-site cannabis consumption establishments from the village. Under the state law legalizing marijuana, the village has until Dec. 31 to pass the legislation. After that, it cannot opt out from permitting the businesses to open. If the board does adopt the bans, it can opt back in at anytime to allow cannabis operations to set up shop. The hearing was held on Zoom.

“We only have until Dec. 31 to opt out of these establishments,” said Arthur Long, 165 Boulevard, in supporting the bans. “However, if we opt out, we can authorize at a later date. If we look at the villages that have opted out, I think they are villages we aspire to be like, Larchmont, Bronxville. People always say, ‘Why can’t we be more like Bronxville?’ Well, here’s our chance.”

Van Snyder, 97 Storer Ave., said he believes that opting in will help Pelham be more like Bronxville. “I think we have a unique opportunity to be an early adapter, and if we want to compare ourselves to Bronxville, we don’t have the retail they do,” he said. “This is a unique opportunity to get some of (that traffic), and it is not just people that are undesirables. They are people like me and your neighbors.”

Clay Bushong, 29 Franklin Place; Maura Curtin, 29 Chestnut Ave., and Eileen Miller, 232 Eastland Ave., all said they wanted to keep cannabis businesses out of Pelham because their presence would make the use or purchase of the drug easier for teenagers and children.

“Prevention science indicates environments play an important role in how likely young people are to try substances,” said Laura Caruso of 15 Chestnut Ave. and executive director of Pelham Together. “Accessibility or availability to the substances and greater social acceptance of the use of that substance are two of those environmental factors. In (Pelham Together’s) most recent survey, Pelham youth indicate that on average they start experimenting with marijuana in ninth grade. If we make marijuana more available and appear more socially acceptable, we run the risk of increasing youth use from a very young age.”

Mayor Chance Mullan encouraged residents to participate in the next public hearing on Nov. 9.

The following are the draft local laws for opting out provided by the village: