Although the legalization of recreational marijuana has made progress in many parts of North America, it hasn’t been a smooth or simple process. Because it’s ultimately up to the individual State or Province to decide how they want to regulate marijuana, it can create a lot of inconsistencies from how one region is managed to the next. Even though marijuana may be permitted in one jurisdiction, it could still remain illegal in another.
New York, for example, is looking at legalizing marijuana as Governor Cuomo has expressed an interest in doing so. The problem is that under Cuomo’s plan, large cities and all counties would be able to decide whether they want to allow recreational marijuana or not. However, they wouldn’t get a cut of the tax revenue if they do and individuals would still be permitted to possess it.
Different regions have different situations. You know Long Island is one situation, Buffalo is another situation, so I believe in giving local governments the right to make this decision. It’s their choice
– Governor Cuomo
As you can imagine, this could create a complex structure for the industry and some big counties have already expressed a desire to opt out.
Nassau County and Suffolk County are two of the larger ones in the State that are opposed to legalization, which have populations of around 1.4 million and 1.5 million people, respectively. However, the bans may not be permanent as one Suffolk executive expressed a desire to have a one-year ban simply learn more about marijuana and use it as an opportunity to gain more feedback.
A one-year window will provide the county the necessary time frame to solicit feedback from experts, law enforcement, and community leaders on the health and safety issues associated with this proposal
– Steve Bellone, Suffolk County
Westchester County, which is near a population of one million, is also looking at opting out as well.
Why the opposition?
Marijuana legalization has been a very polarizing issue in the U.S. and those opposed to it still need a lot of convincing before they can get behind the drug.
After all our conversations with our Commissioner of Health and all of our providers for substance abuse and addiction, combined with discussions with our school superintendents and our local constituents, the short answer is yes, we will be opting out
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell
While legalizing pot while definitely bring in a lot of tax revenue, for some Counties it simply isn’t worth the added cost and the challenges that they may face as a result of it. Substance abuse is a sensitive topic and given the problems the country has seen with opioids, it may not be much of a surprise that there’s still a lot of resistance when it comes to marijuana.
As we learn more about marijuana and both the good and the bad about it, Counties will be better informed of the risks involved and that will help them make better decisions for their citizens. Long term, I do see a path where marijuana is eventually legalized recreationally, but it’s likely going to take years before we get there.