With marijuana sales legalized in New York State and a nationwide opioid crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Supervisor Don Clavin and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito today announced a comprehensive drug awareness program that will save lives. Working in collaboration with the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth and the Saving Lives Five Towns Drug and Alcohol Coalition, the town will be hosting a number of free programs to help educate young people and their parents on the dangers associated with these controlled substances. “Legal Does Not Mean Safe” is the slogan for these programs, as town officials, doctors, psychiatrists and experts will share invaluable information demonstrating that even legalized narcotics can be hazardous. Also attending the announcement were Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Councilman Dennis Dunne, Sr., Councilman Tom Muscarella, Councilman Chris Carini, Councilwoman Melissa Miller, Town Clerk Kate Murray and Receiver of Taxes Jeanine Driscoll, as well as representatives from the Rockville Centre and Five Towns organizations.
“The CDC reports that more than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase of nearly 30 percent. And though the Hempstead Town Board and I opted out of allowing retail marijuana sales throughout America’s largest township, statewide legalization will make it easier for young people to get their hands on these dangerous narcotics,” stated Supervisor Clavin. “It is our responsibility as parents, educators, medical professionals and friends to educate our youth on the dangers of these drugs, and I am proud to partner with Councilman D’Esposito, the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth and the Saving Lives Five Towns Drug and Alcohol Coalition to offer these free drug awareness seminars.”
The seminars will focus on the risks associated with marijuana – including its availability in the form of vapes and edibles – as well as the drug’s impact on young people’s cognitive development, memory and motor function, and mental illness. What’s more, Councilman D’Esposito – a former NYPD detective and fire chief – will share his on-the-job experience with narcotics, and offer his invaluable Narcan training. The Councilman recently distributed his 10,000th free Narcan kit to the public, a lifesaving tool that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“As a former New York City police officer, I have witnessed firsthand the impact of drug abuse on people, their families and their livelihoods,” added Councilman D’Esposito. “Our nation is experiencing an opioid epidemic, which will be worsened by the legalization of marijuana throughout New York State. We need to fight back against this assault on our young people, and I thank Supervisor Clavin and our community partners for taking the lead on getting this essential information to the public.”
Residents interested in these free programs must register online at https://toh311.net/narcan-signup/#/. The schedule for the drug awareness programs is as follows:
• Tuesday, May 3rd at 7 PM – Merrick Golf Course (2550 Clubhouse Road, Merrick)
• Thursday, May 12th at 7 PM – Hempstead Town Hall (1 Washington Street, Hempstead)
• Monday, May 23rd at 7 PM – Levittown Hall (201 Levittown Parkway, Hicksville)
• Tuesday, June 7th at 7 PM – Valley Stream Village Hall (123 So. Central Avenue, Valley Stream)
• Wednesday, June 15th at 7PM – Rockville Centre Recreation Center (111 N. Oceanside Road, Rockville Centre)
“We look forward to bringing about community awareness to address youth mental health and addiction issues and to reduce youth drug and alcohol misuse through education, media advocacy, increased enforcement and change in policies,” said Susan E. Blauner, Director of Substance Abuse Prevention, Awareness and Education for Saving Lives Five Towns Drug & Alcohol Coalition.
“The Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth has as its principal mission the reduction of substance abuse, with a primary focus on reducing youth substance abuse. Its mission is to plan and implement strategies to prevent and reduce youth substance use and its associated consequences,” said Ruthanne McCormack, Project Coordinator for Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth. “We are very appreciative to Supervisor Clavin and look forward to our collaboration.”
Supervisor Clavin and the Hempstead Town Board unanimously opted out of marijuana sales, preventing businesses from selling marijuana within the borders of the Town of Hempstead. The town also banned the sales of e-cigarette and vaping products within 1,000 feet of a school, playground or park. To combat opioid abuse, the town hosts free training workshops to show people how to use Narcan, a lifesaving overdose drug.
“Thank you to the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth and the Saving Lives Five Towns Drug and Alcohol Coalition for their commitment to looking out for young people across the Town of Hempstead,” concluded Supervisor Clavin. “Working together, we will help spread awareness about the dangers of marijuana, opioids and other narcotics.”