4 Long Island beach towns say they'll opt out of legalized pot

FREEPORT, Long Island (WABC) -- The mayors of four Long Island beach towns say they'll prohibit marijuana sales despite New York state's recent law allowing recreational sales to adults.

The mayors of the Rockville Centre, Freeport, Atlantic Beach and Island Park say they will opt out of selling cannabis.

Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty said he will ask the board of trustees to bar it for moral reasons, citing the the rise in drug overdoses in recent years.

"Frankly, it's a moral position," he said. "We've lost too many of our young people, which began with a gateway drug and went further."

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McGinty said he knows that his community stands to benefit financially from marijuana sales, with 3% of the 14% sales tax going to municipalities. But with a provision in the bill allowing for opt-outs, he will ask the village board to make a stand.

Marijuana being a "gateway drug" is a common argument made by officials in many conservative leaning communities on Long Island. And while these communities can't ban marijuana use, they can prohibit sales.

As for residents, there's not much consensus.

"I think they need to rethink it," Freeport resident Tino Puga said. "Give it a chance before you say no."

Others disagreed.

"It shouldn't be allowed," said Warren Farrell, also of Freeport. "it shouldn't be allowed at all."

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The heart of the law is the decriminalization of marijuana, and there is still time before dispensaries are even allowed to open.

The state has to first establish a regulatory system, but as far as McGinty is concerned, he'll hope to make up the loss in revenue some other way.

"We're not going to do it by blood money," he said. "Just not going to do it."

The Hempstead town board indicated that it supports all of its municipalities opting out:

"The Town board is united in its opposition to the sale of recreational marijuana and also stands firmly against 'on premises' consumption of marijuana at facilities within the Town of Hempstead."

Lawmakers estimate the legislation will eventually bring in $300 million a year to cover the state's cost of regulating and enforcing the program, with the remainder divided among schools, drug treatment and prevention programs and a fund for investing in job skills, adult education and other services in targeted communities.

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