Mayors of Long Island beach towns oppose marijuana law

As of this week, recreational marijuana is now legal in New York, but if Mayor Michael McGinty of Island Park has it his way, you won’t be smelling weed in his village.

"As far as the revenue goes, I will go look for revenue, but I’m not taking blood money," said McGinty.

He is one of a handful of mayors from Long Island beach towns who oppose the growth and commercial distribution of marijuana. McGinty believes it’s a gateway drug, while Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy wants to prevent more drivers on the road who may be under the influence. Both mayors say the economic and tax benefits of the new law aren’t worth it to them.

"The Village of Freeport hasn’t had a tax increase in eight years, we increased our reserves from 1.2 million to 24 million in the past eight years, there is other ways to bring in revenue," said Kennedy.

Jeffrey Reynolds has been another outspoken critic of legalizing marijuana. He’s the President of a Long Island nonprofit that runs addiction treatment and recovery centers.

"We want to make sure New York State roles this out in communities where we are protecting minors from premature access, that’s people under the age of 21, that we are properly educating pregnant or breast-feeding women about the dangers associated with marijuana, that we are educating users about the dangers of secondhand smoke," said Reynolds, President & CEO, Family & children’s Association.

But marijuana advocate Pilar de Jesus believes many of these marijuana warnings are based on myths. She even worked with some state legislators to help pass the law, which allows New Yorkers to have up to 3 ounces of cannabis outside the home and up to 5 pounds at home. You can also smoke pot in public wherever smoking tobacco is permitted.

"I believe this bill is great not only because I and others like me worked on it but it’s about reparations, it’s about community investment, about creating generational wealth, it’s about repairing the harm," said Pilar de Jesus, Start SMART Coalition.

But for the Mayors who don’t see it that way,  they have until the end of the year to opt out of allowing commercial growth and distribution in their areas,  and they plan to do so.

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