Bay Ridge

Community members, led by Republican elected officials in Bay Ridge, protest proposed cannabis dispensary

July 1, 2024 Wayne Daren Schneiderman
The former Pilo Arts hair salon, located at 8412 Third Avenue, could potentially become a “cannabis supermarket.” Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta
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BAY RIDGE — 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.

Assemblyman 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.

Plastering signage on Councilman Justin Brannan’s office.
Plastering signage on Councilman Justin Brannan’s office. Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta

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.”

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.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) at the podium. From left: Richie Barsamian, Michael Tannousisand Alec Brook-Krasny.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) at the podium. From left: Richie Barsamian, Michael Tannousis and Alec Brook-Krasny. Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta

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.”

Michael Tannousis at the podium alongside Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (left) and Alec Brook-Krasny (right).
Michael Tannousis at the podium alongside Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (left) and Alec Brook-Krasny (right). Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta

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,” Malliotakis 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.”

Bay Ridge residents are saying that the answer is “no.”
Bay Ridge residents are saying that the answer is “no.” Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta

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.”

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.”

Community members expressing their opposition to a planned cannabis dispensary.
Community members expressing their opposition to a planned cannabis dispensary. Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta

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

“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 responsible and do what is right, they should go to an industrial area instead.”

RMAN Holdings had not responded with comments by press deadline.

Protesters in front of Councilman Justin Brannan’s office.
Protesters in front of Councilman Justin Brannan’s office. Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta

After the press conference concluded, several protesters made their way to the office of Councilmember Justin Brannan, shouting, “Bay Ridge says no.” They pasted flyers on his office doors and windows reading “No marijuana dispensary near our kids” and  “No marijuana dispensary near our schools.”

While Brannan declined to comment, he referred to the protesters’ actions as “unacceptable behavior for concerned citizens” in a Facebook post.



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