By Sean Browne
Mount Pleasant officials made it clear last week that they don’t want marijuana anywhere in their town.
The Town Board is looking to adopt a law that would ban the possession, sale and use of marijuana. It follows Pleasantville’s recently approved prohibition on its retail sale and associated products to counter a proposal from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Legalizing the sale of marijuana was included in the governor’s $175 billion state budget proposal in January. Cuomo has projected that it would eventually generate an additional $300 million in revenue for the state.
Councilman Nicholas DiPaolo said Mount Pleasant needs to follow in Pleasantville’s footsteps, although the village’s law pertains only to the sale of marijuana and not possession or use.
“Since his [Gov. Cuomo] proposal a lot of towns in Westchester have actually jumped to the front of the line on this issue,” DiPaolo said. “I know that our supervisor has spoken with many supervisors across Westchester, and everyone is fairly unanimous in their feeling about this.”
Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi hasn’t kept his sentiments secrets. In an op-ed last week in The Examiner, he strongly opposed Cuomo’s proposal.
“We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, and now New York State, for the sake of financial benefit will promote the use of a known, mind-altering substance and gateway drug,” Fulgenzi wrote. “The implications are outrageous.”
DiPaolo said he believes Cuomo has rushed the proposal.
“This is kind of being jammed down pretty quickly,” he said. “There has been no discussion of the educational component. If you are going to legalize the recreational use of something, how are we going to safeguard kids from it.”
It’s not just the board that is opposing the move toward allowing retail marijuana sales. Mount Pleasant Police Chief Paul Oliva, who is president of the Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association, cited several concerns with the proposal.
Olivia said easy access for minors, an upswing in motor vehicle accidents and the potential for various health risks are problems that must be addressed.
Regardless of town officials’ opinions, they may not have a voice. The governor’s proposal would allow only counties and cities with a population of at least 100,000 to prohibit marijuana sales. There is another proposal in the state Senate that allows for municipalities to opt out.
“If the state wants to challenge that then we will have to face that at a later point,” DiPaolo said. “We do have the ability to look at zoning restrictions for the sale of this as well. I would imagine that the zoning restrictions would probably relate to proximity to school.”
The Town Board has scheduled a public hearing on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. to gather feedback from residents on its proposed law.