New York towns intent on banning retail sales of marijuana are on the clock, as the Empire State’s new pot law gives municipalities until the end of the year to opt out of the legal Cannabis industry.
Like most states that have approved recreational Cannabis, New York’s adult-use law includes a provision that allows jurisdictions to opt out of the nascent marijuana industry. Opt out rules vary by state, but most require an ordinance banning pot to be passed by a predetermined deadline.
While some legal Cannabis states require residents to approve the ban, others allow local officials or the city council to pass an ordinance outlawing the industry without approval from the public. Montana is the only state thus far to consider requiring jurisdictions to opt in to the marijuana industry.
New York towns that wish to bar retail pot sales must do so by December 31, 2021. In order to opt out in New York, jurisdictions need approval from voters, meaning towns must create an ordinance banning sales and the measure must pass by direct referendum by the end of the year.
In New Jersey, where opt outs are becoming increasingly common, jurisdictions don’t need voter approval. City councils and committees are ignoring the will of the voters and making the decision to ban the Cannabis industry, despite the widespread support for pot seen on Election Day 2020 and in numerous polls before and after.
New Jersey’s adult-use law set the deadline to opt out at 180 days from the date the bill was signed into law. That date, August 21, 2021, is fast approaching. If a jurisdiction doesn’t have a ban in place by the deadline, it will be governed by state law for a period of five years.
In both New York and New Jersey, towns are only allowed to opt out of the marijuana industry, prohibiting sales, cultivation and manufacturing. Municipalities cannot ban other aspects of the adult-use law like personal possession, home cultivation or even Cannabis deliveries.