New York towns and villages opt out of cannabis retail and consumption sites
New York City is known for being a melting pot of ideas. If that’s true, then it’s likely that description applies statewide. After a law that legalized recreational marijuana in the state was passed by the legislature, over 400 towns and villages utilized the “opt out” clause that allows them to block local dispensaries and consumption lounges from opening within their jurisdiction.
The law gave municipalities until Dec. 31 to decide against hosting recreational marijuana businesses in their communities. According to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, over 25% of the state’s towns and 31% of its villages have voted against recreational marijuana within their boundaries. They’ve also instituted a “Marijuana Opt-Out Tracker,” allowing users to search what municipalities have opted out.
While many towns and villages may have opted out of permitting marijuana dispensaries and consumption lounges within their municipalities, it’s possible that they are only holding off during the early stages. The concept of legal marijuana is relatively new to New Yorkers, especially older generations who were fed fear campaigns from the federal government over exaggerating marijuana’s harmful effects.
According to the tracker list, Nassau, Westchester, and Suffolk counties appear to host the “dry towns,” where marijuana dispensaries and consumption lounges will not be found initially. More than 30 villages in Nassau County, 20 towns and villages in Westchester County, and over a dozen villages and towns in Suffolk county have all voted to opt out.
While there are many towns and villages on the list, more appear to be approving cannabis retail dispensaries while opposing consumption sites. While marijuana’s popularity in the state and across the country continues to grow, what legalization looks like is still up for debate amongst advocates. Towns and villages have until Dec. 31 to decide, and there are a number of scheduled hearings on the matter.