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New York Marijuana Legalization: Nassau County Plans To Opt Out Of Sales After Task Force Study

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- As more local governments say yes to marijuana sales, not everyone is high on the prospects of legalization.

Nassau County just released results of a task force study recommending the county opt out, and that other counties and states look closely at its findings, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.

New findings released Monday weighed the pros and cons of legal recreational marijuana sales.

FULL REPORT: Nassau County Task Force On Marijuana Legalization And Regulation (March 15, 2019)

Medical marijuana is thriving on Long Island, but when it comes to legalizing recreation sales, residents' comments have been blunt

"I think it is a gateway, I think a lot of things come with it," said one resident, while another said, "I don't think marijuana hurts anyone, it actually calms them down."

MORE: Nassau County Creates Task Force In Preparation For Legal Recreational Marijuana

Opinions like those, plus expert research combined in the final report after two months, three public hearings and eight expert roundtables.

The results were a resounding "no" from the panel tasked with advising Nassau officials, whose findings pointed out:

  • Recreational pot sales would increase calls for emergency service and put stress on social services.
  • Add astronomical costs to retrain police as drug recognition experts, and even drug-sniffing dogs would have to be retired.
  • Homelessness, robberies and burglaries would rise.

"From 2012 to 2017, violent crime in Colorado when up 16 percent, properly crime went up 10 percent," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. "I don't need help pushing it up; I have to keep pushing it down."

Nassau County Exective Laura Curran said the report tracks troubling trends in some of the 10 states that have legalized sales.

"Increases in traffic fatalities in young people getting hooked on high-concentrate vape pens and young people not taking seriously the consequences of driving while high," said Curran.

"At the height of a public health crisis where more than 162,000 Americans are losing their lives annually to drugs and alcohol, now is not the time," said Nassau County Legislator/Task Force Co-Chair Joshua Lafazan

Joining the opt-out list are Suffolk County, Rockland, Putnam and possibly Westchester .

MORE: North Hempstead Votes To Ban Sale Of Recreational Marijuana Amid Cuomo's Call For Legalization</a

Opting out only means prohibiting selling. Possession would be permitted. Counties opting out could then experience all of the problems, but reap none of the revenue benefits.

Task Force Press Conference, March 18, 2019

"It just wasn't worth it at this point, there is just too much uncertainty," said Curran.

Task force members say while their findings may be unpopular, they are methodical and unbiased -- and available online -- to guide decisions not only here in New York but around the nation.


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