Republican legislators file new marijuana opt-out bill

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Republican legislators file new marijuana opt-out bill
Nassau County Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Nassau County Republican legislators have filed their own marijuana opt-out bill that expands upon Legislator Josh Lafazan’s earlier bill by encouraging state senators and assembly representatives to vote against legalizing marijuana.

The bill also adds clauses that outline what the legislators consider to be the implications of the sale of marijuana in Nassau County, including increased crime and suicides that the bill says would have a “devastating human and financial toll.”

The final line urges Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is vocally FIX in favor of marijuana legalization, to veto legislation that would legalize marijuana in New York.

“If we opt out and the state permits [marijuana] and New York City permits it, then I think we’re going to be dealing with many of the same public health issues even if we opt out,” said Presiding Officer and Legislator Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park). “In general, I think it’s better for the rest of the county if this doesn’t go forward at all.”

Both bills call for prohibiting the growth, sale and marketing of recreational marijuana.

Lafazan said he supports the new bill.

“I thank my colleagues for taking the methodical work of Nassau County’s marijuana task force seriously and for following our recommendation to opt out of the local sale and cultivation of recreational cannabis as the most responsible path forward for Nassau County at this time,” said Lafazan, who is an independent but caucuses with the Democrats.

Nicollelo said he anticipates the new bill passing in two weeks in the full Legislature.

County Executive Laura Curran publicly announced her support for a county-wide opt-out in her State of the County address in March.

Marijuana legalization was originally in Cuomo’s state budget proposal but did not make it into the final version. Legislation is expected to be up for a vote this session, which ends in June.

Since state officials were unable to agree upon a marijuana program for the state budget, Nicolello said he is no longer convinced that the state will end up passing one at all.

“I would say it’s possible, but I wouldn’t say it’s certain anymore given the pushback that’s apparently going on in the state,” the presiding officer said.

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