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East Rockaway village board opts out of marijuana sales

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The East Rockaway village board unanimously voted to opt out of the sale of marijuana at its meeting Monday night.

“We’re all against it,” Mayor Bruno Romano told the Herald before the vote. “We didn’t want this at all. We really don’t want this in East Rockaway at all. As a village, we certainly don’t want this to be sold in the area.”

The Lynbrook village board also opted out at its April 5 meeting. Romano expressed disappointment that legislators legalized the sale of marijuana in New York last month. He added that the board has been vocally against the legalization of marijuana for years and tried to fight it out of fear that problems would arise in the community if weed were legal.

“First of all, we don’t want it in our community,” he said. “Second of all, I grew up in East Rockaway and I certainly don’t want this happening. This is a quality of life issue for all of us. This doesn’t belong here. This will increase crime and becomes a safety issue for everyone.”

The 128-page Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act addresses everything from enforcement and criminal justice reform to how taxes would be levied on marijuana producers and retailers and how the dollars would be spent. Towns and villages were given the choice of whether to permit marijuana sales.

Local governments that opt in would be eligible for 4 percent of cannabis tax revenue, and while counties would be barred from opting out of marijuana sale and use in their jurisdictions, towns and villages were able to, with a provision that residents could hold a referendum to override village and town officials’ decision. A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for June 7.

Upon its passage into law, the act automatically expunged arrest records statewide for low-level marijuana offenses.

Forty percent of tax dollars generated from the industry will go to a fund for social equity, which would aid several support service programs, such as workforce development and programs for families who have been hurt by drug enforcement laws.

Tax dollars from cannabis sales will also be put toward law enforcement and education programs to ensure underage children do not have access to marijuana and police are better able to enforce DUI laws.

 

—Peter Belfiore contributed to this story.