#ABKLaw BLOG by Michael Jaccarino: Marijuana – Which Local Governments Will Opt Out

On behalf of Michael Jaccarino, Esq. of Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, PC posted in Blog on Thursday September 23, 2021

New York has legalized adult use recreational marijuana for cultivation, processing, and sale in New York. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) was signed into law on March 31, 2021.

The implications of the new statute were heralded for the legalization of recreational marijuana, social justice implications, and economic opportunities, both for individual entrepreneurs, as well as municipalities – who would share in the tax revenue.  However, because of the potent opposition to the law, the MRTA carved out a procedure by which local officials and governments could opt out – or more strictly regulate – certain provisions of the MRTA.  Today, the rules and regulations governing the license application process has still yet to be developed and implemented by the Cannabis Control Board (CCB), and potential cultivators and sellers are left guessing whether the municipality in which their potential business will be located, will opt out.

State officials have estimated that tax revenues from recreational marijuana could reach $350 million annually! And yet, lawmakers have offered alternatives to allow municipalities to opt out, should they choose to do so. Towns, villages ad cities can opt out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses from their jurisdiction. However, they must pass a local law by December 31, 2021, or they will lose their ability to opt put at a future date.  Interestingly, should a municipality choose to opt out, and then witness the millions of tax dollars being left on the table, they CAN opt back in.  Should a municipality decide not to opt out, they can also pass local laws and regulations governing the time, place, and manner surrounding consumption, adult-use retail, zoning, hours of operation, and adherence to local building codes. 

So, while some jurisdictions are welcoming marijuana legalization, others are not.  For example, the Town of Warwick and the City of Buffalo are reportedly enthusiastic about the tax revenue and jobs that marijuana businesses will generate.  Others, such as the Village of Pleasantville and the Towns of Islip and Shelter Island have either opted out or announced their intention to pass regulations.  As local officials continue to ruminate over whether they should opt out or impose restrictions, individuals seeking to obtain licenses, open businesses, and purchase real estate, must be aware of the intentions of the jurisdiction they seek to do business. 

As an aside, no municipality will be able to opt out of adult-use legalization.

Stay tuned to our website for more information as it becomes available.

Persons who are interested in learning more about this statute are encouraged to promptly contact an attorney. At Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, we handle all aspects of cannabis law, from criminal defense, business formation, licensing, avoidance of civil penalties, and navigation through the State’s regulatory schemes.

Do you have additional questions?

Contact criminal defense attorney Michael Jaccarino and the Law Offices of Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, PC should you have additional questions for a New York Criminal Defense Law Firm. 

Call our office to learn more, or if you have a particular legal matter that requires immediate attention: 212-486-0011 or email us at Info@AidalaLaw.com