New Year’s Eve Marks End of Municipality Opt-Out Window for Cannabis Retail Dispensaries, Consumption

Though New York state’s cannabis market has stalled in recent months, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s arrival in Albany has sparked hope that appointments to the Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board will drive the industry forward. Currently, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) has made cannabis legal across New York state. But municipalities – like their populations – have varying degrees of comfort with the industry; and have some discretion regarding legalized marijuana over what is allowed and what is restricted.

Under MRTA, municipalities are pre-empted from regulating the operation or licensure of registered organizations, cannabinoid hemp licenses, or adult-use cannabis processor, distributor, cooperative or cultivator licenses. However, towns, villages and cities may opt out of allowing retail dispensaries and on-site consumption licenses within their respective boundaries by adopting a local law, subject to a permissive referendum on or before December 31. Municipalities cannot prohibit other licensed entities from operating within their boundaries, including those possessing a delivery, nursery, cultivator or microbusiness license. After December 21, municipalities cannot prohibit other licensed entities from operating within their boundaries.

Municipalities often shape their decision-making process with public hearings and town council votes. In some cases, a town board vote is retracted or reversed based on feedback from public hearings or commentary. Many towns, cities and villages are still undecided regarding both retail dispensaries and consumption licenses. Some are waiting until December draws closer.

This Adult-Use Municipality Opt-In/Opt-Out map, provided online as a free tool from Rochester-based consultancy Cannasigliere, LLC, tracks the cities that have already issued decisions and cities in the process of deciding; as well as upcoming municipal meetings and ballot referendums. Founder and consultant Michael Doyle analyzed stated reasons for the opt-outs in this LinkedIn post.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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