Two mayors on Long Island want to “opt out” of selling marijuana in their municipalities when the green bud becomes legal in the Empire State.
The mayors told The Post that the risks of fatal car accidents due to weed smoking could outweigh the benefits of collecting three percent in sales tax revenues from pot sales.
“We don’t need the revenue that badly. I’ll find alternative ways to find revenue,” said Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy, a Democrat who is past president of the New York State Conference of Mayors.
“We don’t need additional deaths,” added Kennedy, referring to driving accidents that occur while driving are under the influence.
Freeport is the second largest village in the state with 45,000 residents.
Rockville Center Mayor Francis Murray also cited the problem of driving while high as reason while he will urge his village not to sell weed.
“My vote is to opt out,” he said.
New Yorkers can store up to five pounds of cannabis in their residence under the proposed law.
The state Legislature is expected to pass the marijuana legalization bill later tonight and Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign it into law.
The bill to be voted on by state lawmakers calls for a study to find a scientific way to test for driving while high, just as there is for drunk driving.
Under the bill, cities, towns and villages are able to opt out and bar the sales of cannabis in their vicinity. The area’s governing body would have to pass a local law to opt out by Dec. 31, 2021.
Large swaths of jurisdictions in other states that have legalized marijuana including California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Oregon have refused to sell weed.
The resistance to selling pot in neighboring Nassau County and other nearby communities could trigger thousands of suburbanites to buy weed in the Big Apple, where legalization has been embraced by Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city leaders.
Sales are expected to begin sometime in 2022.
Studies have shown about one-third of Gotham’s young adults ages 18 to 25 smoke pot.
Like de Blasio, upstate Binghamton Mayor Richard David also said his city will sell pot.
“I want to make sure the city secures the revenue,” said David, adding it “doesn’t make any sense” to urge citizens to drive to another municipality nearby that sells cannabis.
State prosecutors agree that road safety poses the biggest challenge.
“The problems will be exacerbated by the legalization of marijuana and edibles containing THC,” said Monroe County DA Sandra Doorley, president of the NYS State District Attorneys Association.
“There will soon be many new and odorless ways of ingesting marijuana into your body that will cause observable impairment, but because of the requirement to name the substance, prosecutors will not be able to hold someone accountable who drives under the influence.”
The marijuana legislation, finalized over the weekend, will create a new Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board, falling under the purview of the State Liquor Authority.
A combined 13 percent tax will be placed on retail sales — 9 percent will head to state coffers, three percent to municipal governments such as cities, towns and villages and one percent to county governments.
Once fully up and running, the pot program is expected to raise approximately $350 million in tax revenue which will flow into a “Cannabis Revenue Fund,” providing a 40 percent split going to the State Lottery Fund for education, 40 percent to the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund for social/economic equity programs and 20 percent to the Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund.
The measure also establishes a goal to issue 50 percent of marijuana retail licenses to applicants in minority and low-income communities disproportionately impacted by criminal drug prosecutions and the war on drugs.
The bill allows individuals to grow up to three indoor cannabis plants and three outdoor plants, with a maximum total per household set at 12 plants.
There is also a five pound possession limit at home for individuals.