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Suffolk bill would add illicit drugs to social host law

Suffolk County seal on the outside of the

Suffolk County seal on the outside of the H. Lee Dennison building in Hauppauge. Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

Suffolk lawmakers want to update the county’s social host law to punish adults who allow minors to use opioids and other controlled substances in their homes.

Following a similar proposal put forward in Nassau this week, opioids, marijuana, cocaine and anabolic steroids would be added to the county law, said Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore), legislative minority leader. Currently, the law makes it a misdemeanor for adults to allow underage drinking in their homes.

“We want to send a loud and clear message to parents that whether it’s alcohol or illegal drugs, condoning this behavior will simply not be tolerated,” Cilmi said in an interview Thursday.

Cilmi requested legislative counsel George Nolan draft a bill based on Nassau’s proposed changes. Majority Democrats said they would support including drugs in Suffolk’s social host law.

“The adult has a responsibility for conduct of a minor under their care,” said Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), deputy presiding officer.

Cilmi sponsored a successful bill in 2016 that increased penalties for knowingly hosting underage drinking. He said he had inquired about including illicit drugs, but was told other laws covered them.

Violating the county’s social host law comes with a fine of up to $500 for the first offense, and up to $1,000 fine and/or a year in prison for a second and subsequent offenses.

The opioid crisis took the lives of some 600 Long Islanders last year, including about 400 in Suffolk, according to county medical officials.

Earlier this week, Nassau County Republican lawmakers announced a bill to add opioids and other controlled substances to Nassau’s law.

Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said among the more troubling trends are parties in which minors gather around a table with a bowl of pills in the middle alongside a dose of Narcan, the opioid antidote.

Suffolk’s proposed local law could be introduced March 6 and come up for a final vote at the April 24 meeting of the county legislature.

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