Nassau GOP: Ban Drugs from LI Parks

by Chris O'Neill


Nassau County and local Republican elected officials are fighting back against the “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act” (MRTA) that was signed on March 31st by NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-Westchester) that allows the public sale and smoking of marijuana in New York.


Critics have raised the alarm - saying "the law will increase danger on the roads and be harmful to children - not only affected by the example of others in public spaces but by empowering corporations to “commercialize marijuana and use marketing to prey upon children and those susceptible to dependency.”


However municipalities can opt-out of certain aspects of the law, by passing a local law on or before Dec. 31, 2021.


In Nassau County, an opt-out law, sponsored by Legislators Howard Koppel, William Gaylor III and Laura Schaefer passed the Nassau County Legislature in April and would ban cannabis smoking at all county-owned properties. But the law has had to be revised, since state law mandates that fines for marijuana smoking can be no larger than for tobacco smoking. In the case of Nassau, that means only $25.


"This “a travesty,” stated Nassau Legislator John Feretti (R). "What kind of message does it send that this body’s hands are tied and we can only fine somebody $25 for violating this ? It’s the wrong message to children. The people up in Albany really need to get on the right page on this.”


Rockville Center Coalition for Youth volunteer Elizabeth Boylan was disappointed in the penalty but praised legislators for “the fact that you have the vision to post all these signs on Nassau County properties...” She hopes that this will discourage folks from smoking anything on Nassau County properties.


The new law covers 6,000 acres of county-owned parks, beaches, golf courses and preserves as well as buildings, sidewalks, parking lots, playgrounds and any other county-owned property.