Which New York Towns Will Opt-In (or Out) of Marijuana Dispensaries?

 Updated on March 30, 2022

Legal marijuana is coming to New York. But is it coming to a town near you?

The NY Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) provides municipalities with an opt-out clause for specific provisions. That means over 1,500 communities across the state have until December 31st, 2021, to decide if they’ll allow dispensaries and consumption lounges within their borders. Municipalities can also accept one type of business and opt out of the other.

Many local officials have already made up their minds. To date, 462 New York municipalities have officially opted out of adult-use dispensaries, and 523 have opted out of cannabis consumption sites. Other localaties have welcomed cannabis retail and the revenue stream it promises to bring. Several others areas are still undecided.

So who’s opting in, who’s undecided, and who’s opting out of allowing dispensaries and consumption sites in their towns. More importantly, what do these decisions mean for New Yorkers?

What Opting-Out Means

To be clear, New York communities cannot opt-out of adult-use legalization as a whole or deny other types of licenses such as those for cultivation, manufacturing, or delivery. The MRTA only gives the option of opting out of certain types of cannabis licenses.

New York municipalities cannot ban:

  • Possession of cannabis
  • Cannabis consumption (where allowed)
  • Home growing
  • Delivery services
  • Production facilities
  • Medical marijuana

They can ban:

  • Adult-use dispensaries
  • Consumption lounges (sometimes called cannabis cafes)
  • Other businesses that allow for on-site consumption

Fortunately, opting out is not the end of the story for places that said no. Some of the municipalities that opted out still have a window for a permissive referendum, and voters could repeal the decision.

Additionally, while December 31st is the deadline, it is not the end of the process. Municipalities can legally change their minds at any time. Several have blamed their opt-out vote on lack of guidance from the Office of Cannabis regarding the roll-out details. However, upon receiving further clarity, some may recant their previous decisions.

What Opting-In Means

For New York municipalities that opt-in, business licenses, including dispensaries, will be issued by the Cannabis Control Board once they have finalized the application process. After the December 31st deadline passes, opt-in areas cannot legally rescind the decision. The state crafted this provision to stabilize the market and provide assurances to investors who plan to spend substantial resources building cannabis businesses in those areas.

Dispensaries, regardless of area, cannot be located within 500 feet of schools or 200 feet of places of worship. Municipalities may also enact additional operational restrictions on dispensaries within reason.

 

Should NY Towns Stay In or Opt-Out?

December 31st is drawing closer, and municipalities are feeling the pressure. Towns that have decided to allow dispensaries and cannabis cafes cite community support, projected tax revenue, and increased home values. Towns that have opted out of dispensaries cited unknowns in regulations, skepticism over the projected tax revenue, inability to test drivers, and the ability to opt-in later.

You can monitor which municipalities opt-out with this Google Map, created and updated by Cannabis Consultant Michael Doyle.

NY Towns Opting Out

As of this writing, hundreds of New York municipalities have taken action to opt-out of allowing either dispensaries or consumption lounges, and nine more are leaning towards opting out of both. The Rockefeller Institute of Government’s opt-out tracker is the most up-to-date. However it doesn't include New York City counties in its analysis.

Alexandria Bay

Champion

Freeport

Lowville

Orwell

Turin

Altamont

Chaumont

French Creek

Lumberland

Oswego (Town)

Union Springs

Ardsley

Chautauqua

Gerry

Lynbrook

Patchogue

Victory

Ashford

Chester

Goshen

Manlius (Village)

Pelham

Walden

Aurora (Village)

Clarendon

Great Neck Estates

Marathon (Village)

Pinckney

Walton

Avoca

Clayton (Town)

Great Neck Plaza

Marilla

Philadelphia

Waterloo

Babylon

Clayton (Village)

Hammond

Martinsburg

Plandome Heights

Watertown (City)

Bayville

Clymer

Harmony

Massapequa Park

Poland

Watertown (Town)

Bellport

Constableville

Harrisburg

Mexico (Town)

Putnam Valley

Watson

Bemus Point

Copenhagen

Hopkinton

Mexico (Village)

Rhinebeck (Town)

Williston Park

Black River

Cortlandville

Hounsfield

Middletown

Ridgeway

Willet

Bolton

Covert

Hyde Park

Minoa

Rockville Centre

Yorktown

Brightwaters

Crawford

Independence

Morehouse

Roslyn

 

Bronxville

Croghan

Island Park

Mount Kisco

Roslyn Estates

 

Brownville

Deferiet

Islip

Murray

Rye

 

Brutus

Denmark

Jerusalem

New Bremen

Shelter Island

 

Busti (Town)

Eastchester

Keene

New Hyde Park

Sherburne

 

Callicoon

East Rockaway

Kent

Niagara

Somers

 

Cape Vincent

Ellery

Kirkwood

Nissequogue

Southeast

 

Carmel Hamlet

Ellicott

Lake Pleasant

Northampton

Southampton (Village)

 

Carroll

Ellisburg

Lapeer

North Castle

Southport

 

Cassadaga

Farmingdale

Larchmont

North East

Springport

 

Castorland

Fayetteville

Lakewood

North Hills

Stony Point

 

Cazenovia (Town)

Floral Park

Lewisboro

North Salem

Suffern

 

Cazenovia (Village)

Flower Hill

Liverpool

Orangetown

Theresa

 

 


NY Towns Opting In

Of the municipalities that said no to onsite consumption lounges, 67 said yes to dispensaries,, according to an unofficial tracker created by Cannasigliere. Additionally, 181 counties have said yes to both business types, with another 20 counties leaning towards “opt-in.” 

NY Towns Embracing the MRTA

The following municipalities have publicly stated they plan to opt in.

Of the municipalities that said no to onsite consumption lounges, 67 said yes to dispensaries,, according to an unofficial tracker created by Cannasigliere. Additionally, 181 counties have said yes to both business types, with another 20 counties leaning towards “opt-in.”

Binghamton

Geneva (Town)

New Paltz (Village)

Riverhead

Brookhaven

Glens Falls

New Rochelle

Saugerties

Buffalo

Hamilton

Orchard Park

Seneca Falls

Burke

Hannibal

Orleans

Watkins Glen

Cambridge

Hudson

Oswego (City)

White Creek

Chateaugay

Ithaca

Oyster Bay

Woodbury

Dunkirk

Irondequoit

Perth

Woodstock

East Syracuse

Jamestown

Plattsburgh

Yonkers

Ellicottville (Town)

Kingston

Poughkeepsie

 

Ellicottville (Village)

Newburgh

Queensbury

 

Geneva (City)

New Paltz (Town)

Rensselaer

 

 

NY Municipalities Still Undecided

Many towns and villages are still undecided. Some are leaving it up to public vote, while others have scheduled meetings to address the question.

Undetermined New York municipalities

As of this writing, 156 municipalities are still seeking public input to decide. That means residents of these towns have time to reach out to local officials and express their opinions.

Additionally, nearly 100 localities have scheduled municipal meetings over the next week to help make their determination. It’s critical for residents of these towns to attend.

Places that fail to decide by December 31st will be automatically (and permanently) entered into the program.

Towns Opting In for Dispensaries and Out for Cannabis Cafes

  • Amsterdam
  • Ballston Spa
  • Colonie
  • Croton-on-Hudson
  • Homer (Village)
  • Pine Plains
  • Tuxedo
  • Warwick (Town)

     

    NY Towns Leaning Towards Opting-In

    These towns have not made definitive statements but are expected to allow dispensaries and cannabis cafes.

    • Bethel
    • Canton
    • Canajoharie
    • Chestertown
    • Granville (Village)
    • Harrietstown
    • Johnson City
    • Lysander
    • North Syracuse
    • Penn Yan
    • Pomfret
    • Scotia
    • Syracuse
    • Thompson
    • Tupper Lake

     

    NY Towns Leaning Towards Opting-Out

    These towns have not taken definitive action but may opt out before the December 31st deadline.

    • Arietta
    • Atlantic Beach
    • Bedford Hills
    • Fayette
    • Hanover
    • Hempstead
    • Liberty
    • Mamaroneck
    • Medina
    • Old Brookville
    • Patterson
    • Pelham Manor
    • Portville
    • Quogue
    • Rockland
    • Silver Creek
    • Tusten
    • Warwick (Village)
    • Wellsville
    • West Seneca

     

    What You Can Do Now to Support Dispensaries in NY

    If your town is on the list of undecided or leaning towards opting-out, don’t lose hope!

    Many elected officials cite lack of public support or negative public sentiment as the driving factor for opting out. Reach out to your elected officials, including the Mayor and Board Members, and let them know you support retail sales and consumption lounges in your community. These Boards can’t consider social media comments when making their decision, so it’s essential to reach out to them directly.

    As a member of your community, your voice matters, so speak up! Email, call or visit your elected officials in person. You can also find out when public hearings are and attend to show your support.

    If your municipality is holding a referendum in November, get out and vote! Every vote in your community matters, so make it a priority and let your friends and family know to do the same.

    If your community has decided to opt-out, you can still voice your support for dispensaries because municipalities have the option of opting back in at any time. You can file a petition with your local government or create a citizen’s referendum.

     

    What’s Next for Legalization in New York

    New Yorkers shouldn’t feel too concerned despite the vast number of initial opt-out localities. As it turns out, cannabis retail hesitancy is very common in the early stages of adult-use implementation. In New Jersey, for example, nearly three-quarters of municipalities opted out of six categories of marijuana licenses at first. Florida, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Michigan faced similar hurdles. Yet over time, as New York regulators provide clearer insight and residents continue to make their voices heard, many areas could begin overturning their initial decisions. 

    Want to stay updated with all the latest New York hemp and cannabis regulations? visit Medical Mikes NY news page to stay in the know.