• NCVOA and SCVOA Push for Changes in Governor's Proposal to Legalize Cannabis in NYS


    Mayor Ralph Ekstrand                                                   Mayor Richard B. Smith
    Nassau County Village Officials Association                 Suffolk County Village Officials Association
    (516) 437-1455                                                             (631) 327-7342
    exec@ncvoa.org                                                           mail@scvoa.com
    (Huntington, NY…March 11, 2019)   In a joint meeting of the Nassau County Village Officials Association (NCVOA) and the Suffolk County Village Officials Association (SCVOA) that took place on March 6th, a majority of village mayors expressed serious concerns about Governor Cuomo’s proposed legislation to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in New York State. 
    Simply stated, the Executive Boards of both NCVOA and SCVOA strongly oppose this ill-conceived legislation.

    “SCVOA’s opposition to this legislation is based on our passionate commitment to protect the best interests of our village residents,” said SCVOA President and Village of Nissequogue Mayor Richard B. Smith. “We are extremely concerned about the impact legalization will have on the village life we work so hard to safeguard.”

    “If passed, the proposed legislation will negatively affect almost every aspect of village life from economics to public health to law enforcement,” said NCVOA President and Village of Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand. “NCVOA is steadfast in our opposition to this unwise and harmful legislation.”
    NCVOA and SCVOA join many other New York State-based organizations in law enforcement, health and education in their opposition to this proposed law:

                President of the Medical Society of The State of New York Dr. Thomas Madejski: “We have many different intoxicants in our society, none of them are particularly helpful, and I think adding one more is not in society’s interest.”

                Pediatrician and leader of the NYS branch of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. Henry Neilley: “Even at 21, kids’ brains are not fully mature and they are at higher risk,” said. “The biggest one is cognitive effects on the brain, and not only the younger they are when they start but the more they use marijuana, there is a long-term health risk involved."

                President of the NYS Sheriffs' Association Sheriff Robert Maciol:  "We took an oath as sheriffs of New York state to keep our communities safe, and by legalizing marijuana, we will become less safe.”

    If it is inevitable that this law will pass, the villages have a number of serious concerns and specific recommendations:
                1.  At a bare minimum, the State should delay implementation to fully vet the impact of the proposed law and to clarify and modify some of its provisions.  In addition, the bill should require that the State provide advance notice to all affected jurisdictions of any applications affecting their jurisdiction or near its boundaries, and give them time and ability to comment.
                2.  As in other states, this legislation should be voted up or down by public referendum.
                3.  The proposed legislation gives “opt out” power to counties, failing to recognize that it is only towns and villages – not counties – that are given the power under state law to regulate permitted and/or prohibited uses of land through their zoning power, and therefore it is towns and villages that should have “opt out” power.  Under state law, counties have no zoning power, and therefore have nothing to do with regulating uses of land.
                4.  If the bill is not changed, Nassau and Suffolk Counties should opt out for a number of reasons including:  costs to implement the law will far exceed revenue to villages and towns; health and accident risks will increase significantly; opting out will diminish use even if the cannabis can be purchased elsewhere.
                5.  The bill should require a local share of revenue to help defray the significant costs or implementing the law, such as the re-training of police and code enforcement officers, and the re-writing of existing local laws
                6.  The bill should ban certain forms of marijuana, such as marijuana in the form of “candy,” and/or chewable foods, and other forms that might be child-friendly.
                7.  The law should require businesses to comply with local zoning and business operation regulations (e.g., hours and manner of sale) and should permit villages and towns to restrict public use.

    NCVOA and SCVOA is urging all local municipalities that are in agreement with this position to voice their concerns to the Governor and their state legislators.
    About the Nassau County Village Officials Association: Founded in 1925, the Nassau County Village Officials Association (NCVOA), representing all of Nassau County’s 64 villages and 450,000 residents, is dedicated to providing village officials with a forum for exchanging ideas and experiences in the administration of their municipal duties; developing educational programs and conferences to assist village officials with implementing their civic responsibilities; studying and discussing various activities and actions that will benefit the public safety, health and welfare of our member villages; and investigating and discussing the most efficient means and methods of village government.
    About the Suffolk County Village Officials Association:  Since 1934, the Suffolk County Village Officials Association (SCVOA) has worked to support and advocate on behalf of the villages of Suffolk County, as well as to provide an information resource on all matters and issues of concern to the villages. SCVOA’s primary purpose is to create a strong, effective, cohesive organization that serves the more than 125,000 Suffolk County village residents by promoting an exchange of ideas and strategies that enable village government.

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