GOP officials, residents protest planned cannabis dispensary


Chants of “no marijuana store” and “Bay Ridge says no” were heard loud and clear on June 24 as more than 100 Bay Ridge residents demonstrated their vehement opposition to the proposed opening of a marijuana dispensary on Third Avenue.

Assemblymember Michael Tannousis (R-64), Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) and Alec Brook-Krasny (R-46) held a press conference in front of the planned cannabis dispensary located at 8412 Third Ave., the former Pilo Arts hair salon. The proposed dispensary is 6,000 sq. feet and includes three storefronts.

Tannousis told the crowd that this was “the worst possible location” for a marijuana dispensary.

“There are 8,000 students within a block-and-a-half radius; children are walking back and forth to school daily here,” he said. “We demand that the NYS Office of Cannabis Management reject this ridiculous proposal.”

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) at the podium. From left: Richie Barsamian, Michael Tannousis and Alec Brook-Krasny. Eagle photos by Arthur De Gaeta

Incidentally, Community Board 10 has recently voted against the proposal submitted by applicants RMAN Holdings LLC, citing proximity to five schools, two houses of worship and a children’s bookstore.

Current cannabis laws prohibit retail licensees from having a storefront within 500 feet of a school or 200 feet of a house of worship.

However, while RMAN Holdings LLC’s application technically meets these legal requirements, the board raised concerns about its proximity to Home Sweet Home Child Day Care Center (less than 500 feet), which is not classified as a school.

“The Office of Cannabis Management has been a disaster from the minute that they passed recreational marijuana,” Tannousis said. “We are going to put pressure on their office and the governor’s office to prevent this from happening.”

Malliotakis addressed the crowd next, pointing out that it is unacceptable that the proposal is under consideration in such a residential neighborhood.

“We do not want this 6,000-square-foot dispensary cannabis superstore in the middle of Bay Ridge,” Mallio- takis said. “We must be vocal, we must be heard, and we need to stop it. It will hurt the children, the taxpayers, the residents of the area — and the quality of life in our community.”

Brook-Krasny, the third speaker at the event, explained, “The smell of marijuana on every corner of this city is a sign of degradation of this great society.”

Community members expressing their opposition to a planned cannabis dispensary. Eagle photos by Arthur De Gaeta

He also referred to cannabis as a “gateway drug.”

“Yes, there is medicinal marijuana, and I understand that it helps some people who need it,” Brook-Krasny noted. “But recreational cannabis is the worst possible law that we can have in this state. Can we reverse this law? Of course, we can — and we will!”

Bay Ridge local Paul Leonardo has lived in the neighborhood for more than 50 years and is opposed to the proposed dispensary.

“I raised my kids here; my grandkids are here,” Leonardos said. “This is our neighborhood. Why do they want to destroy our neighborhood? We don’t need something like this in our backyard.”

Sixteen-year-old Omar Marea, a Bay Ridge resident, said despite his peers using marijuana, he chooses to ab- stain.

Eagle photos by Arthur De Gaeta

“It’s been a real annoyance for me,” Marae explained. “My living room at night smells like weed, and I have to say that enough is enough. A dispensary here would be a huge mistake.

Richie Barsamian, chair of the Kings County Republican Party, attended the press conference but did not speak publicly. He told the Brooklyn Eagle, “If this proposal goes through, it will destroy our quality of life and entice our children.”

“This is not where we need this type of store,” Barsamian said. “If [RMAN Holdings] wants to be respon- sible and do what is right, they should go to an industrial area instead.”

RMAN Holdings had not responded with comments by press deadline.

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