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Town Of Riverhead Mulling A Medical Marijuana Moratorium

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- New York residents will soon be able to fill prescriptions for medical marijuana close to home.

The state recently named the counties where 20 facilities will open.

But in one town, lawmakers are considering a marijuana moratorium, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Friday.

It's a small town on the rise, with new shops, restaurants and a theater. But some Riverhead residents say a medical marijuana dispensary doesn't belong around the corner from the high school.

"To ask us to bear the burden for all of Suffolk County is really unreasonable," PTO board member Cynthia Redmond said.

The site chosen by a company registered to dispense medical cannabis is on busy Route 58, Riverhead's main street.

Redmond said it sends the wrong message to kids.

"Some drugs are medicine and some are not, and that can be a slippery slope for a lot of kids," she said.

Riverhead is now considering a moratorium -- even a ban. Among the town's concerns are increased traffic from an unknown number of patients, and crime, Gusoff reported.

The town would reap none of the tax benefits. Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said they were blindsided by the site selection.

"My opinion is it should be in an industrial area," Walter said. "It is my belief that this is just the first step in an incremental approach to the legalization of marijuana."

Walter predicts the law will morph into recreational use and doesn't want Riverhead in the epicenter.

Drug prevention advocates worry it will get into the wrong hands.

"As youth see it as available and a cure for illness and perceive it to be not harmful, we see that use increases," said Felicia Scocozza of Riverhead Community Awareness Program.

The facility would dispense extracts, tinctures, oils -- not marijuana for smoking -- and
only to certified patients with 10 qualifying conditions, Gusoff reported.

"These people are in pain and need relief," one person said.

A coalition of patients say most communities have not seen an increase in traffic or crime.

"These are folks in need of medicine, so I don't think they are going to pose a problem for communities. We have pharmacies on every corner," said Julie Netherland of Compassionate Care NY.

Medical marijuana should be available at the designated dispensaries throughout New York by January.

Riverhead expects to have the moratorium drafted quickly for public debate, Gusoff reported.

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