Curran announces support for countywide marijuana sale opt-out

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Nassau County Executive Laura Curran at her State of the County address, where she publicly announced opposition to recreational marijuana being sold here. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the County Executive)

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced Tuesday her opposition to the sale of recreational marijuana in the county, debuting her stance at a major public forum: her annual State of the County address.

Curran had refrained from taking a position for or against a countywide ban at an interview event last month with Blank Slate Media publisher Steven Blank, saying that she was waiting to hear what her marijuana task force would present after researching different aspects of the drug and its legalization.

The task force, which was announced in January and is led by Legislator Josh Lafazan and Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, is collecting expert information and compiling it into a report that will be publicly available.

Though she will not receive the task force’s report until Friday, Curran’s tone was definitive in Tuesday evening’s speech at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

“Over the past several months I have personally received input from community leaders, school leaders, village officials and health-care professionals as well,” she said. “So, tonight I am announcing that I will not support recreational marijuana sales in Nassau County.”

In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget, counties and cities with populations of at least 100,000 may opt-out of having marijuana sold. Curran said she plans to ask the county Legislature to enact such a measure.

Curran also hit on several county projects and issues in her address, including the Nassau Hub and property tax reassessment.

The Hub is intended to be a downtown center with apartments, accessible transportation and entertainment located in the barren lot surrounding NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

“The Hub will turn from a symbol of inaction to a centerpiece of redevelopment and become the single most defining landmark in Nassau County in the next decade,” Curran said.

The county’s suburban landscape does not satisfy the needs of many young people and seniors, she said. A walkable community with businesses, entertainment and affordable housing options will step up to serve them, Curran said.

She also recounted the history that led up to the county conducting a property tax reassessment under her leadership.

The reassessment, completed in January, came after the system was frozen in 2011 under her predecessor, Edward Mangano.

“Over the eight years, the Mangano administration did nothing,” Curran said. “Let me say that again: did nothing.”

Curran has faced criticism from Republican legislators for her administration’s handling of the reassessment, including assessor David Moog’s performance and errors in tax-impact notices. 

Republicans have called for Moog’s resignation, blaming him for errors in the reassessment process, and, most recently, a publicly elected assessor.

Curran was met with applause when she said her office was “working hard to get it right.”

“We are doing what it takes to repair it, restart it and keep it running, so we don’t saddle future taxpayers with a broken system,” she said. “Yes it’s been difficult, but it’s been worth it because we are moving toward a more accurate assessment role – one that is designed to restore fairness and integrity to the system.”

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