Marijuana Matters: Do the economic benefits of legalizing weed outweigh the potential risks?
Advocates for legalization of recreational marijuana say that it could become a $1 billion industry on Long Island.
Matthew Cohen, CEO of the Long Island Association, says whether residents think marijuana should be legal or not, it's here to stay and New York should take advantage of it.
"We've seen examples of recreational marijuana being legalized in other states and the world has not collapsed, the roof has not fallen down, crime has not soared to epic levels," Cohen says. "In fact, it's the opposite effect."
Others like Island Park Mayor Mike McGinty say recreational marijuana will bring a human toll even if there is an economic boom.
"There's a whole crowd of young kids, guys and gals who aren't with us anymore, they started on something, they moved on and suddenly they're not here," McGinty says. "I don't wanna be any part of that type of tragedy."
Some people say there needs to be education about the dangers of recreational marijuana.
Steve Chassman, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, is concerned that advertising is going to target younger adults and become a problem for them.
"I'm not concerned about the 51-year-old male who wants to keep a little marijuana in the freezer for company on Saturday night and watch reruns of 'Seinfeld,'" Chassman says. "I'm more concerned for the adolescent..."
Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, says fears about legalizing marijuana are based solely on misconceptions and fear.
"When you look at the growth in the states that have legalized--it's the seniors, it's people my age, it's parents like me, it's not young people actually," Tyson says. "In the places it's legalized, youth usage has dropped, opioid deaths have dropped significantly in those states."
Gov. Kathy Hochul is working with state legislators to move swiftly but cannot say when people will be able to walk into a dispensary and buy marijuana legally.
The administration hopes it will happen sometime next year.