Nassau County votes to opt out of legalizing marijuana

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Nassau County legislators voted unanimously on Monday to opt out of the sale or use of recreational marijuana if the state legalizes it.

“There is no other way to put this but that legalizing recreational marijuana will harm the residents of this county,” Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park), said in a news release. “It is our duty to put the interests of those residents first.”

Legislators mentioned a 77-page expert panel report when deciding against the sale of legalized marijuana. This report said that legalization would be bad for the health and safety of residents. The repercussions, it said, would cost more than the money it would potentially bring to the county.

According to the news release, the Legislature expressed concern about issues that have occurred in other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. These issues include increased crime rates, substance abuse and treatment problems, and more.

Lawmakers also questioned if the police would be able to test drivers for impairment due to marijuana.

City and state officials of New York have been working for over a year towards possible legalization. Public listening sessions and government reports have led the state Legislature to work on a bill. But the measure was not included as part of the budget that passed last month.

Most recently, the City Council of New York passed a bill on April 9 which would prohibit employers from making potential employees submit to testing for the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol.  They also recently approved legislation to ban the city from mandating marijuana testing for people on probation.

The City Council also called for all misdemeanor marijuana convictions to be expunged and asked the state Legislature to pass legislation that would completely legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

“The findings of the Nassau County’s Task Force as well as the experience of other states that have legalized medical marijuana demonstrate that legalized recreational marijuana will create profound and distressing challenges for Nassau County and our residents,” Nicolello said in the news release.

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