Editorial: Town Board’s leadership fail on medical marijuana

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Editorial: Town Board’s leadership fail on medical marijuana

Using the scientific insight and good judgment of a Salem witch trial jury, the North Hempstead Town Board approved a second law last week to control medical marijuana dispensaries, capping their number at two and relegating them to out-of-the-way locations.

The law restricts dispensaries to industrial districts and hospital zones and bars them from being located within 1,000 feet of schools, day-care centers and places of worship or within 500 feet of a residential district. And they need to be located in a building with a medical office.

This did not prevent the town from issuing a news release that said: “The regulations will not hinder medical marijuana facilities from coming into the Town of North Hempstead.”

If the writer of the news release had been smoking marijuana – for medical or other reasons – the town would have a strong argument against marijuana use in any form.

Otherwise, the statement along with the law is nonsense and worse. It is also cruel, forcing the sickest among us to go off the beaten path to get the medication they need.

By what logic does limiting the number of medical marijuana facilities to two not hinder them from coming into the Town of North Hempstead?

That, in fact, is the whole point of the legislation.

Are there any similar limitations on any other type of business? Nail salons? Banks? Pharmacies? Liquor stores?

“Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States from 2006-2010,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But no one, thankfully, is suggesting we limit the number of liquor stores in North Hempstead.

Hindering the opening of dispensaries is also the reason for restricting medical marijuana dispensaries to industrial districts or hospital zones and requiring that they must be in a building with a medical office.

The dispensing of no other drug must take place in a building with a medical office.

Certainly not opioids, which are part of a national epidemic that in 2017 resulted in 72,000 deaths in the United States. They are dispensed at pharmacies across the town – often just down from the candy aisle.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth recently said she wondered why all medical marijuana dispensaries in Nassau County are located in North Hempstead.

The answer is easy. Under the free enterprise system, a business opens where the owners think there is a demand for their product or service — and they can make money.

The appeal of North Hempstead to these dispensaries is probably enhanced by the number of world-class hospitals located in the town.

These hospitals treat people with the kinds of illnesses for which medical marijuana is prescribed – cancer, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain among others.

It is worth noting that marijuana is used as a less dangerous alternative to opioids in the treatment of chronic pain, in part, because marijuana is not addictive.

That is something to ponder. The Town of North Hempstead is making it harder for very sick people to get a less dangerous and, perhaps, more effective medicine.

Bosworth recently hinted at the real reason for this ill-considered legislation when she said she and the members of the Town Board were doing their jobs as representatives by following the will of their constituents.

In this case, civic association members and residents responding in classic not-in-my-backyard fashion when a medical dispensary in Lake Success announced plans to move to a retail location on Northern Boulevard in Manhasset.  The operators of the dispensary, MedMen, announced last week that they had canceled their plans.

The opponents said the facility might lure innocent teenagers with a dangerous substance that they couldn’t get without a prescription and increase traffic in an already heavily traveled area.

Perhaps, more important, was the concern that the medical dispensaries would be turned into retail stores in the likely event of New York State legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use.

Bosworth is wrong on this. The job of our elected officials is to be leaders, not followers.

Our Founding Fathers feared groups making decisions based on ignorance and emotion. That’s why we are a republic with leaders who our Founding Fathers hoped would know better.

The Gallup Poll shows year after year that one-third of Americans do not believe in evolution.  Should members of a school board ban the teaching of evolution if a vocal minority opposes it?

The day before the Town Board’s vote, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans for New York to join 10 other states and Washington, D.C., and legalize adult recreational marijuana.

Projected sales in New York range between $1.7 billion to $3.5 billion a year, which would generate a lot of tax revenues used to fund government programs.

The nationwide trend toward legalization has strong public support. A recent Pew Report found that 62 percent of Americans favor the legalization of adult recreational marijuana.

They are led by millennials, the group the town keeps saying it wants to attract, who support legalization at a rate of 74 percent followed by Gen Xers at 63 percent.

Cuomo’s support for legalizing adult recreational marijuana followed an in-depth study that evaluated the health, public safety and economic impact of legalizing marijuana by a wide range of experts.

They concluded that the benefits of legalizing marijuana far outweigh the risks.

The Town Board’s response: Proposed legislation to bar the sale of adult recreational marijuana in the Town of North Hempstead.

We are sure officials in New York City couldn’t be happier. North Hempstead taxpayers shouldn’t be.

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