When County Executive Laura Curran announced last month that Nassau County would opt out if the state legalizes recreational cannabis, she was flanked by Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and a handful of county legislators. She proclaimed that, “now is not the time” and the county’s so-called marijuana task force identified a number of potential public health and safety concerns.
She stopped short of calling cannabis “the devil’s weed,” but one would not be surprised if she had, since everything about Curran’s decision seems plucked straight out of the ignorance-fueled reefer madness craze of the 1930s. Back then, cannabis was systematically demonized in the public sphere with baseless claims declaring that it drove users to lunacy, reduced teenagers to rabid animals and endangered the delicacy of housewives across the country.
There are a number of problems with Curran blocking recreational use in Nassau County—and one could make the inference that she is doing so in order to regain any votes she potentially lost from older residents in the reassessment debacle. If that is the case, then she is trading votes for county’s financial future.
Curran said that lawmakers in Albany haven’t made it clear what revenue would be generated for counties by the legalization. County Exec, all it takes is minimal research. In a December 2018 article, Forbes said Michigan estimates that it will generate $737.9 million in tax revenue in the first four years after legalization. The state will use this revenue to meet the budget for its police force, repair roads, fund education and plug other budgetary shortfalls. Don’t these sound like familiar problems, County Exec?
In the same article, Massachusetts reports that recreational cannabis sales will generate $216 million in the first two years. And this growth shows no signs of slowing, as New Frontier Data estimates that the legal cannabis market could grow to $25 billion by 2025.
And yet, Curran and Ryder still buy into the antiquated notions of 90 years ago. In reality, the only true danger is Nassau County will once again suffer at the hands of outdated thinking, progression at a glacial pace and the small-mindedness of whomever happens to be in office at the given moment.
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