Updated: Town attorney Nick Ciappetta is expected to review a state agreement that would legalize recreational marijuana in light of a Town Board vote in 2019 to ban its use and sale in Huntington.
In August 2019, the Town Board unanimously voted to prohibit the use, sale and distribution of marijuana for recreational purposes anywhere in town. That was enacted after a public hearing in June 2019, which was scheduled in response to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal to legalize recreational marijuana at the time.
Dr. Jeffrey L. Reynolds, president and chief executive officer of Family and Children’s Association, said that without legal definitions of what constitutes impairment, drivers using marijuana could pose more of a threat on roads. And, he said, he was concerned about limiting access to children under 18, as well as people with mental health issues, who might turn to marijuana to medicate themselves instead of dealing with their health problems directly.
Assemblyman Keith Brown, R-Northport, who is the ranking minority member on the Assembly Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee, and a member of the Northport Drug and Alcohol Taskforce, said, “The legalization of marijuana is an issue I’ve looked into deeply and, consequently, is one I cannot support. Data from other states show the costs we will pay as a society due to various factors, such as increases in driver-impairment among others, far outweigh any potential tax benefits we may receive, and our children will be the ones hurt more than anyone. What matters more than anything else when discussing this issue are the facts, and there’s no refuting that marijuana use in children and adolescents increases following legalization.
“Empowering corporations to commercialize marijuana and use marketing to prey upon children and those susceptible to dependency will only cause abuse by our young people to become worse with time, in ways many may not foresee now. While some have hailed the movement to legalize recreational-use marijuana as one of equity and justice, I fear that by hastily rushing to set up a marijuana market in our state we will pay the price for it in terms of our health and greater economic well-being for generations to come,” he said.
But Hunter Gross, who is running to claim a Democratic spot on the fall ticket, noted the potential financial benefit of marijuana sales.
“We can take the additional surplus and finally fix our roads and invest in new sustainable jobs in our Town. If we don’t opt in, the fact is residents of Huntington will purchase cannabis in neighboring Towns, while we lose the much-needed revenue.”
Elected officials in Albany say they expect tax collection on sales to reach $350 million, with the potential to create 30,000 to 60,000 jobs.