Long Beach, New York (CBSNewYork) – A deadline looms across New York State.
Municipalities have until December 31 to decide whether to legalize adult recreational use Marijuana On-site dispensaries and consumption halls.
But as CBS2’s Caroline Jossoff reported Thursday, hundreds of villages, towns and cities are choosing not to participate.
Another city on Long Island, Hempstead, recently announced that it was pulling out of dispensaries, as the year-end deadline approaches.
“The state doesn’t really know what they’re doing either. We all need to take a step back in order to move forward in the right direction,” said Long Beach Councilwoman Elizabeth Triston.
A wait-and-see approach is welcomed by drug abuse groups.
“We already have outrageous underage drinking rates, and we didn’t want Long Beach, at least at this point, to be a palace mecca for marijuana either,” said Jodi Vining, CEO of Long Beach Aware Group.
“If they want to get it, they should go to another town,” said one of the residents.
“I don’t have a personal problem with that. Another added.
It’s a divisive issue, with more than a third of New York’s municipalities choosing not to participate, including the villages and towns of Long Island Glen Cove, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Huntington, Islip, Shelter Island, East Hampton and Smithtown.
Not withdrawing by the end of the year means that communities will choose to participate irrevocably.
Among those who chose to participate were Babylon, Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southampton, whose supervisor, Jay Schneiderman, said it didn’t make sense to miss out on the 3 percent of tax revenue that would benefit neighboring communities.
“There are a lot of things we can money for to improve our community. So walking away from that seemed like an irresponsible financial situation, when you know it wouldn’t reduce use in any way,” Schneiderman said.
The withdrawal leads to the loss of what advocates say is a highly regulated, safer than alcohol industry with union jobs.
“Legalizing cannabis will bring thousands of jobs and millions upon millions of dollars into society. These are not the major stores of the 1960s,” said John Dorso, president of the Long Island Labor Federation.
Riverhead’s supervisor, Yvette Aguiar, criticized her town’s passage.
“No town in Suffolk County is prepared to deal with the location, use and enforcement of narcotic driving,” Aguiar said.
The municipality can reverse its decision to withdraw through a referendum or simply re-vote, if there is a change of opinion about the integrity of the dispensaries and lost revenue.
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