Cannabis confusion clouds Woodbury Village Board meeting

Woodbury. When town and village officials give inaccurate information, the village mayor and attorney step up to set the record straight.

| 03 Jan 2024 | 11:06

There seems to be a ton of confusion surrounding the recreational cannabis dispensary that will someday open in the village of Woodbury. This was made apparent during the December 28 Woodbury Village Board of Trustees meeting where Woodbury Town Councilman Brandon Calore and incoming Woodbury Village Board Trustee Jim Freiband, made potentially inaccurate statements that required correction from the sitting board and village attorney. The Photo News reached out to Mayor Andrew Giacomazza and Woodbury Village attorney Kelly Naughton to help clarify what’s going on concerning the opening of the dispensary. First, we’ll start with the mayor, who told us, “Marijuana is here to stay in Woodbury. It’s now our responsibility to determine where the dispensaries would be located in order to best maximize safety and access to it. If we do nothing, then it [marijuana] will be everywhere and create more of a headache. We can and should manage this with responsible zoning, and that is what we intend to do.”

The village attorney told The Photo News in a statement, “There needs to be some clarity here with regard to the NYS Cannabis Law, and what is permitted in the village of Woodbury. New York State legalized recreational marijuana state-wide, regardless of what local municipalities thought — or think — about it. Stated clearly, it is legal to have a certain amount of use anywhere in New York. The village of Woodbury had the opportunity to opt-out of having adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries and/or on-site consumption businesses, but needed to do so by the adoption of a local law no later than December 31, 2021. The village did not pass such a law opting out. As a result, such facilities are permitted within the village subject to any reasonable zoning regulations that are passed by the village. At last night’s meeting [The December 28th Village of Woodbury Board of Trustees meeting], the village passed such a zoning regulation, creating a ‘Cannabis Related Use/Facility Overlay District,’ which limits the operation of those uses to a specific limited area of the village, as set forth in the law. The law creating this overlay district, as well as the other laws enacted at the meeting, and all of Woodbury’s actions in connection with such laws, were procedurally and substantively passed by the village in proper form. Any statement to the contrary is incorrect.” The statement being referred to here are comments made at the meeting by incoming village board member, James Freiband, who was corrected twice during the meeting. First by the village attorney, and then by outgoing board member, and deputy mayor, Tara Burek.

Woodbury town vs. village battle again

Woodbury Town Councilman Brandon Calore stated that he wants to “implore the village board to either delay, shoot down, or revisit the dispensary that is intended for Woodbury.” When told that wouldn’t be possible. Calore then responded, “So three municipalities that opted-in that year [2021] were the city and village of Newburgh, and the village of Woodbury. So congratulations, we’re tied up with Newburgh.” Mayor Andrew Giacomazza replied, “What’s wrong with Newburgh?” To which Calore said nothing. There was a murmur from the well-attended board after Calore’s Newburgh comment, which prompted the mayor to ask Calore again, “What’s wrong with Newburgh?” After some silence, Calore finally stated, “I don’t like the drug traffic, mayor.”

Calore cited for the source of his concern that there is no breathalyzer test for police to use in detecting if someone is driving under the influence of marijuana. While it’s true that there is no breathalyzer at present to detect marijuana, police officers have other tools they can use. These include blood tests or the collection of a urine sample which can be made at the officer’s request. The Photo News has reached out to the Woodbury Police Department to gather further information about how they currently determine if someone is driving under the influence, and any plans that they may have to step up enforcement once the dispensary opens.

When Mayor Giacomazza suggested that if the town of Woodbury was so opposed to the dispensary that the town should decline its share of the revenue from it, Calore shot back, “Maybe instead of going for the drug money, you should be concerned with moving people from Woodbury Commons into our town. Not for weed but for our businesses.” If the town had opted out, according to the village mayor in a statement to The Photo News, they would not be entitled to any of the sales tax distribution. Presently, the village and town split that 4% from each sale of recreational cannabis.

Calore claimed that the town had indeed opted out, but the town is not included in the official opt-out list maintained by the state (, nor is it listed as opting out in other third-party trackers of such data, including in the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s opt-out tracker.