Editorial: End the marijuana madness, part II

Editorial: End the marijuana madness, part II

We are issuing a special alert this week about dozens of facilities across the North Shore distributing opioids – highly addictive, potentially very dangerous drugs that studies show 85 percent of heroin users have begun with.

The use of these dangerous drugs, in forms both legal and illegal, is part of a national epidemic that in 2017 resulted in 72,000 deaths in the United States.

But no one is protesting these facilities, which actually need no special alerts. We all know their name. They are called pharmacies.

That is not the case of a medical marijuana dispensary currently located in North New Hyde that its owners, MedMen, hope to move to a location on a section of Northern Boulevard in Manhasset known as the Miracle Mile.

The proposed move has drawn intense opposition from elected officials, civic association members and residents.

Organizers of a recent protest said large numbers of teenagers in the area will be targeted, claiming the proposed store has been designed similar to Apple stores, better to attract young people.

Others have complained about increased traffic in an area already featuring the Americana shopping center.

An online petition, which has received 1,500 signatures, requests amendments to the town code requiring that marijuana dispensaries be “at least 1,000 feet from any residential property” and a mile from schools, houses of worship and public parks.

And Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth recently sent a letter to New York’s health commissioner expressing concern that all of Nassau County’s current and proposed medical marijuana dispensaries are in North Hempstead.

The question is why?

Under New York State law, medical marijuana is restricted to sick people. Very sick people.

According to the state Health Department website, to be eligible you must be diagnosed with one or more of the following “severe debilitating or life-threatening conditions: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic pain.

“The severe debilitating or life-threatening condition,” the website continues, “must also be accompanied” by complicating conditions.

And people with these conditions must get a prescription from a doctor registered with the state Health Department.

These are the people we need protection from?

These are the people – people with cancer, AIDS or chronic pain – that we want to banish to some remote part of town to get the medicine they need as if they were criminals or lepers?

For a drug considered safe enough to be legal for recreational use in nine states, the District of Columbia and all of Canada?

Just why should we treat sick people using medical marijuana any different than sick people going to the pharmacy to get opioids or other highly regulated substances? In fact, why shouldn’t they get the medical marijuana at a pharmacy?

Talk about regulatory overkill.

And this is the place teenagers are going to go to hang out?

We suspect some opponents of the marijuana dispensary continue to share wildly inaccurate information about marijuana turning people into drug-crazed sex fiends made popular in the 1930s by the infamous movie “Reefer Madness” and fostered by the U.S. Treasury Department.

New York City Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia responded by commissioning a study that disproved claims that smoking marijuana causes insanity, damages physical and mental health, assists in criminal behavior, and is a “gateway” drug to more dangerous drugs.

But, until recently, to no avail.

Other opponents of the marijuana dispensary on Northern Boulevard appear to be concerned that it will become a place to buy marijuana if and when recreational use is approved in New York state.

This is not an unfounded concern.

Recreational marijuana has been approved in nine states, including Colorado, Washington and California, as well as the District of Columbia. And last Wednesday, recreational marijuana was made legal in Canada, a nation of 37 million people.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo commissioned a Health Department study this year that concluded the positive impacts of regulated marijuana use outweigh the potential negatives.

Polls show 62 percent of New Yorkers in favor of legalization of recreational marijuana for people 21 and over and only 28 percent against.

One of the benefits of marijuana legalized for recreational use appears to be financial.

A report from New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer concluded that marijuana legalization could generate as much as $436 million in new tax revenue for our cash-strapped, highly taxed state.

If not banned from commercial areas, this could benefit Main Streets pocked by empty storefronts and the effort to attract young people back home.

This is not to say that marijuana use has no ill effects, just that they can be handled more easily than alcohol, tobacco, opioids or even fast foods, which have contributed mightily to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes.

Want proof?  Check with the other states that have already legalized marijuana starting with Colorado in 2014. Or for that matter with authorities in New York, where criminal sanctions have not prevented many people from using marijuana – without paying taxes.

If this does not ease the concerns of those opposing the medical marijuana dispensaries, we recommend a medically prescribed chill pill.

You can get them at any pharmacy.

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  1. This editorial misses the point of the current uproar… adding another problem is not a solution! Residents are NOT objecting to medical marijuana …No disagreement that opioid abuse remains a big problem in dire need of a solution. Teen drinking and drug abuse our neighborhoods face SHOWS us how poorly NYS controls our youths’ access to these big problems, and there’s no reason to believe NYS will be able to effectively control recreational marijuana. The current uproar is all about the location of the facilities and residents’ quality of life. It falls upon local municipalities to control where they are located, very indeed in full view of likely recreational marijuana legalization in NYS. The current application for a medical marijuana facility at 1575 Northern Blvd Manhasset is proposed to MOVE their current medical marijuana facility from its current location on Marcus Ave, Lake Success where it is co-located within a medical complex having easy access to major roadways and insulated from residential properties. A highly appropriate location that it should STAY where it currently is. It must NOT be moved to our resident’s adjacent backyards, close to our schools, parks and places of worship where it prominently markets its products to our youth. MedMen has already expressed their corporate strategy to establish medical marijuana facilities in highly visible community locations – but make no mistake – its not to make medical marijuana more convenient for those that need it. Rather the move is to take root in prime community retail locations to gain the competitive edge in recreational marijuana facilities and sales when it’s imminently legalized in NYS.


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