Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on legalized marijuana: 'Now is not the time'

FARMINGDALE, New York (WABC) -- Nassau County will opt out if a bill in New York state to legalize recreational marijuana passes in its current form.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's task force released its final report Monday regarding the potential impacts on Nassau County if recreational pot is legalized.

The report identified a number of potential public health and safety concerns that Curran says need to be addressed before Nassau County will participate.

The task force ultimately recommended that the county opt out of legalization if the New York State Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act is passed as is.

"Based on the evidence and input I've received from the task force, our key stakeholders and what I've heard from residents, I have decided that now is not the time for the legalized sale of marijuana in Nassau County," Curran said. "What I heard from our law enforcement, our school and education professionals, health officials, and our towns and villages was clear, this isn't something we're ready to implement."

Curran's task force, created in 2010 in response to the pending state legislation to legalize marijuana in New York, was in charge of examining the expected impacts that legalization may have on the county's public safety, public health, and business development.

Many others in the community also share the same views as Curran.

"I had many concerns, as I was and still am strongly opposed to its legalization," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. "The committee worked exhaustively preparing the data which included attending town hall meetings and the report shows both the negative and positive impacts on legalization. Due to the overwhelming amount of negative impact at this time, we are recommending to the county executive that we opt out."

Not everyone agrees, though. The report includes a letter from Local 338, a labor union that represents approximately 300 workers in the medical cannabis industry across New York State.

The letter states: "Legalizing cannabis opens New York State to an incredible new avenue for job growth, criminal justice reform, economic opportunities for small and medium sized business, as well as increased tax revenue to fund public services."

Christina Bisbee is a Nassau County business owner who is in favor of the legalization of the growing and selling of marijuana because of the potential tax revenue. She urged Nassau lawmakers to reconsider opting out.

"I think it's a big mistake," she said. "The infrastructure and the growth that we can benefit in Nassau County is tremendous."

Curran said the task force was unable to include potential revenue as part of its findings because lawmakers in Albany haven't made it clear what, if any, revenue would be generated for counties by the legalization.

Read the full report here.

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