On Oct. 4, the Cazenovia Town Board adopted a local law opting out of allowing retail cannabis dispensaries and on-site cannabis consumption establishments from locating and operating within the boundaries of the town.
Under New York State’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which was signed into law on March 31, 2021, cities, towns and villages — but not counties — may decide whether or not they will allow establishments within their jurisdictions to sell cannabis products and/or permit on-site cannabis consumption. They cannot, however, prohibit possession or use, generally.
To “opt out,” a municipality must adopt a local law subject to permissive referendum on or before Dec. 31, 2021.
“If the board were to adopt this [opt-out] law, it is designed in such a way that it can only be approved by way of permissive referendum,” explained Town Attorney John Langey. “If this does get adopted tonight or in the future, we have to publish a summary of that action in the paper. Then a petition can be passed and submitted, and if there are sufficient signatures on it, it would go to a public vote. At that time, depending on what the vote is, the majority of the people that would vote in that referendum would determine the issue.”
If a municipality opts out, it can always opt back in, but if it does not opt out by the end of the year, there is no provision for opting out at a later date.
“We have two choices,” explained Town Supervisor Bill Zupan. “We could do nothing and that would opt us into having on-site consumption and dispensaries in the Town of Cazenovia — right now the only spot that is zoned for this is Main Street, New Woodstock. If we don’t do anything, we are in forever.