By Douglas Stephen Hoppe
The Town of Huntington would benefit greatly from “opting-in” to legal cannabis sales, and
Hunter Gross is the only person and candidate courageous enough to be speaking about it openly.
I never believed the myths and lies that cannabis legalization would ruin our community. As an
active medical and recreational user, I knew the truth about Marijuana and I never submitted to
the falsehoods that claimed crime would increase, families would be demolished, and drug usage
The fact is that none of this is true, nor is there any verifiable data that backs
such notions. Cities and countries around the globe have legalized — or decriminalized —
cannabis; its impact has been largely non-harmful, and in most cases, undeniably beneficial. It’s
been scientifically proven again and again that cannabis is less harmful to individuals and society
than alcohol, which is ubiquitous.
Some of the many benefits of cannabis legalization include small business opportunities —
especially for minority-owned businesses — tax revenue boosts, employment increases, and
racial justice. People of color are arrested at a rate four times higher than white people for
cannabis use, even though both groups use it at nearly the same percentage, according to the
ACLU — this is unconscionable! The legalization of cannabis and “opting-in” to the new laws
will play a role in closing this racial divide, keeping families together, and freeing up time for the
police to focus on more serious violent crimes throughout our town.
From an economic standpoint, the benefits of cannabis legalization are far-reaching. The CATO
Institute has projected that states collect hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes each year from
this multi-billion dollar industry. Colorado collects $20 million a month, Oregon collects $10
million a month, and California collects a whopping $50 million a month. Those numbers are
from the first year of each state's legalization and have been steadily rising ever since. Local
entrepreneurs and small businesses benefit the most from such an enterprise, and the ones in our
great town deserve to reap the same rewards. Huntington must take proactive measures to help
small locally owned cannabis businesses compete successfully in the new legal market.
New York State has recently legalized the sale of recreational cannabis to people over 21.
Townships now have the choice of “opting-in,” or “out,” of the opportunity for storefronts to
legally sell cannabis. The issue is simple, either Huntington opts in, allowing convenience for
locals to support neighborhood small businesses and job growth, or opt out thereby forcing
Huntington residents to spend their money elsewhere. That means illegally on the black market
or lengthy trips to opt-in locations like NYC or The Shinnecock Reservation.
Why should places like NYC be the sole earners of the over 60,000 jobs and billions of dollars that are expected to
come with the cannabis industry? Huntington residents deserve the same opportunity to prosper,
especially after COVID-19, which has seen a surge in cannabis use to help cope with the stress
of the pandemic.
The town of Huntington is in a unique position to be a leader, if not THE leader, in progressive
cannabis policy and legal cannabis sales on Long Island — subsequently reaping the economic
and social benefits of such a decision. Yet our town council has been holding us back from such
prosperity and freedom.
The members have either been silent on or opposed to, the issue and
even voted to opt-out in 2019. Instead of making unilateral decisions, the town council should
ask what their constituents truly think of this issue. When I emailed them my thoughts regarding
cannabis policy, they did not request a meeting with me to discuss things despite my expertise on
the issue and willingness to discuss issues amicably. It seems that many of our elected officials
cower from the tough, and sometimes controversial, decisions needed to improve our
With a town council race underway, I was hoping to hear more candidates proudly support
opting-in. Yet disappointingly, I am only seeing the faces of people who refuse to take a strong
stance on such an important issue. Hunter Gross, however, is the only candidate for town council
that is an open and avid supporter of opting-in to legal cannabis sales. From what I have seen, I
am confident that he has studied the data carefully and understands that opting-in is the best path
forward for our town. He has been open to discussing ideas and issues with me and other
constituents in hopes of making the best possible informed decisions. The other candidates for
town council have avoided open discussion on the topic of opting-in. They seem to be waiting to
see how the tides shift rather than taking a firm stand for supporting the community they wish to
I have spoken with my neighbors and met with countless small business owners in our area; the
people of Huntington are ready to see their town council support policy that will help our
I am a new cannabis entrepreneur ( www.stashmaven.com ) and I have my
finger on the pulse of Long Island’s legalization scene and especially Huntington since I
currently work out of a home office in Greenlawn. I think we deserve the cash and liberty that
comes with embracing cannabis instead of shunning it. We are ready to see the people we elect
represent the taxpayer and do what is in Huntington’s best interest. We The People of
Huntington have spoken, and it seems as though only one person is listening: Hunter Gross.