QUEENS (VINnews) — In a few days, a new smoke shop is set to open in the heart of Kew Gardens Hills, and the large Orthodox community is not happy.
According to local residents, the shop, which will be located on the same Main Street block as the iconic Shimon’s Pizza, Sandwich Bar, and Max and Minna’s, will offer marijuana among its smoking products.
The store will be centrally located in the thriving Orthodox neighborhood, within blocks of hundreds of Jewish homes, shuls, stores, and yeshivas. Needless to say, this is a devastating development for local families.
The Queens Jewish Link newspaper printed a letter about the store, set to open in February.
An excerpt reads, “The Jewish community of Queens will soon be home to a smoke shop that intends to offer marijuana amongst its array of smoking paraphernalia that would presumably include vapes, pipes, bongs, rolling paper, lighters, and the like. The lease is set to begin in just three weeks on February 1 at 71-38 Main Street in the former home of Royal Home Goods…on the block of Shimon’s Pizza, most definitely not an appropriate location for such a window-shop. Yes, anyone will be able to march in and buy pot in our relatively quiet neighborhood.”
The editors responded: “We would like to note that community rabbanim are largely aware of this issue and are placing pressure, as best as they can, to avoid a grand opening. It is also important to note that Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has advocated for this legislation, stating at the time of the legalization: ‘This is a crucial step to elevate communities of color when there were efforts to decriminalize. This is a huge win for the people of New York.’”
“…Tuesday, January 10, Richards’ Cabinet held a meeting providing an update from the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) on the recent issuance of the first Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary licenses across the state, including here in Queens.”
The paper continued, “The office of Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal is weighing all options available to ensure the safety of our community and our children. Current laws are being studied to assess if such a joint can operate within X number of feet from schools, pharmacies (Mazal and Shop-N-Save pharmacies), and places of worship.”