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Two Long Island mayors will ‘opt out’ of legal marijuana

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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.

The new bill will allow New Yorkers to have up to three indoor cannabis plants and three outdoor plants.
The new bill will allow New Yorkers to have up to three indoor cannabis plants and three outdoor plants.
Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

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.

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FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

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A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
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The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
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Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

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One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

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One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

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NYC school leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

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The leaders of the city’s public schools and largest charter network both weighed in on the Derek Chauvin verdict with passionate statements about how there is still a long way to go to reach systemic equality.

Department of Education Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter issued a personal commentary Tuesday night after the murder conviction of former Minnesota cop Chauvin.

“I felt pain and rage, deep in my bones,” she said of her initial reaction to George Floyd’s death. “It wasn’t a new feeling. I have felt that many times in my life, as a Black woman, sister, daughter, and mother to Black children—and as an educator who has served children of color in this city for more than 20 years.”

Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would be issuing guidance for teachers and families to help them process the verdict.

Eva Moskowitz with two students, the CEO and Founder of the Success Academy
Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz issued a statement on the Derek Chauvin verdict.
Brigitte Stelzer

“For our Black and brown children to know that they matter, the accountability this verdict represents is so important,” she stated. “In a world that too often tells them otherwise, accountability in this moment tells the Black and brown children in our schools that their lives matter, and lifts up the importance of their futures.”

Several teachers told The Post on Wednesday morning that they planned to broach the topic with their students to allow them to discuss Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s conviction.

Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said the Department of Education would issue guidance to help teachers and families process the verdict.
Mark Lennihan/AP

“Because while the individual who took George Floyd’s life will be held accountable, we recognize that systemic racism, and the violence it fuels, is still creating tragedy and inequality across our country every single day,” Ross-Porter said. “We are all part of the work to undo this harm and reach true justice.”

Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, who oversees the city’s largest charter school network, also issued a statement.

People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“We are grateful that justice has been served and that the judicial process has worked as intended,” she wrote. “We recognize, however, that this verdict does not resolve the systemic inequities that led to Floyd’s death; nor does it heal the anguish we feel witnessing our fellow citizens die at the hands of the public servants tasked with protecting us.”

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