Nassau, Suffolk Dem Leaders Split on Legal Weed Sales Opt-out Idea


Long Island’s top two Democratic leaders are at odds over whether the region’s towns, villages, and cities should ban the sale of newly legalized recreational marijuana.

Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer, who’s also the Babylon town supervisor and chairs Suffolk’s town supervisors association, says all towns on LI should pass legislation banning the sale of legal weed. But New York State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, who also chairs the party’s Nassau County chapter, says localities should allow sales. 

“I think it does nothing to stop people from using marijuana,” Jacobs said. “It just makes them travel further to give their business and the tax dollars that come with it to some other municipality.”

LI’s 95 villages, 13 towns and two cities — Glen Cove and Long Beach — have until Dec. 31 to pass legislation opting out of allowing dispensaries from selling weed to adults over the age of 21 following passage of a historic New York State law ending pot prohibition last week.

“I’m asking all town supervisors to consider an island-wide opt out,” Schaffer told the Press. He said the supervisors plan to discuss his idea at a meeting Wednesday.

Some towns, such as the Town of Hempstead, have already publicly come out in opposition to allowing sales in their communities, although possession of up to three ounces and growing marijuana plants would remain legal.

The mayors of the villages of Island Park and Williston Park told the Press they favor a ban as well.

“There’s no interest at this point in time to sell marijuana within the confine of the Village of Williston Park,” said Mayor Paul Ehrbar.

The mayors of Freeport and Rockville Centre have also been widely quoted as saying they plan to push for a ban of pot sales in their villages.

Many other local town and village leaders contacted by the Press said they need more time to debate whether they favor allowing sales or not and weren’t prepared to comment on the topic.

Jacobs says the local government leaders who are opposed need to get with the times.

“To me, it seems like a hollow attempt to politically appease a local constituency that needs to, and eventually will, adjust to the new reality,” Jacobs said. “It’s like those communities that still banned the sale of alcohol after the end of prohibition. What do we think of them now?”

-With Drashti Mehta, Terrell Bush, and Joseph Gemino

Related Story: NY Passes Recreational Marijuana

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