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The original item was published from 4/1/2019 4:17:17 PM to 4/1/2019 4:18:07 PM.

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County Executive

Posted on: April 1, 2019



Task Force on Marijuana Legalization & Regulation to prepare County for necessary action to ensure public safety, protect public health, promote business development, and provide consumer protection

Mineola, NY – In anticipation of the state legislature enacting legislation legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran today announced the formation of the Nassau County Task Force on Marijuana Legalization & Regulation. Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and Legislator Josh Lafazan will co-chair the Task Force, which will include representatives from the Department of Health, the business community, law enforcement, and other key stakeholders listed below. 

The Task Force will bring together leaders from across the County to understand key local needs in advance of potential legalization, including the identification of equipment and training requirements for officers, public health protocols, new regulatory and licensing procedures, and tax revenue and business development implications. The overall goal will be for Nassau County and its residents to be fully prepared for this potential change to New York State law on day one.  

“Legalization of recreational marijuana will mean a big change to our local laws, procedures, and regulations – Nassau County will be ready for this change when it comes,” said County Executive Curran. “I have directed the formation of this task force to pre-emptively ensure that our law enforcement, health officials, and residents are equipped with the tools and resources they need to be prepared.”

““I commend County Executive Curran for forming this task force so we can all work together to address the issues and concerns that the Police Department has regarding any possible legalization of marijuana,” said Commissioner Ryder. “Officers will require additional training and new equipment will need to be purchased to identify drivers driving under the influence of marijuana to keep our roadways safe. As a Police Department, our job is to enforce the laws that are in effect and that is what we will do.”

“Whether legislating or establishing regulations, my goal as Co-Chair of this committee remains the same: for our county to benefit from insight from those states who have previously legalized marijuana, consult experts in various industries, engage stakeholders from all across the county, and open this process in a transparent manner to the public at large,” said Legislator Josh Lafazan. “No generation will be more affected by the policy decisions government makes surrounding drugs than my generation, and that is why I am so honored to serve in this new role. I want to thank County Executive Curran for her proactive leadership, and for her confidence in me - I can’t wait to get to work.”

The Nassau County Task Force on Marijuana Legalization & Regulation will comprise the following members:

  • Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Department of Health Commissioner
  • Francesca Carlow, President of the Nassau County Chambers of Commerce
  • Patrick Ryder, Nassau County Police Commissioner (Co-Chair)
  • Josh Lafazan, Nassau County Legislator (Co-Chair)
  • Giselle Campbell-Ham, Assistant Principal of Freeport High School
  • Ralph Ekstrand, Mayor of Farmingdale
  • Bishop Lionel Harvey, First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury
  • Jeffrey Reynolds, President of Family and Children’s Association

While no legislation has yet been passed to legalize recreational marijuana in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo and leaders in the state legislature have made clear their intention to affirmatively address the issue in the new legislative session.

Legalization of recreational marijuana is expected to have a myriad of implications for law enforcement processes, criminal justice proceedings, commercial development, government tax revenue, licensing and regulation, public health protocols, and more. Given the breadth of potential impact for all County residents, the initial goal of this Task Force will be to develop a working understanding of the facts around marijuana legalization, and to accordingly pursue policy recommendations that will adequately prepare the County for what comes after legalization.

Should sale and possession of marijuana be legalized, County Executive Curran believes that Nassau County should be a leader in New York on day one by seamlessly incorporating harm reduction strategies, while implementing a regulated marijuana program that will properly absorb the regulatory mechanisms required to ensure public safety, protect public health, and provide consumer protection.

The Task Force is expected to study the experience of legalization in surrounding states, as well as consult with the Governor’s Office and other NYS agencies that participated in the report delivered to Governor Cuomo in July 2018, “Assessment of the Potential Impact of Regulated Marijuana in New York State.”

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