Over 400 localities in the state of New York have moved to ban cannabis sales in dispensaries as well as its consumption in cannabis lounges. The decision of the towns and villages comes as the deadline to opt-out of hosting dispensaries comes closer on December 31, 2021, reports the Associated Press.

The votes and decisions are observed under the New York State Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. Under the said act, the localities are given the choice to withhold licenses that pertain to the consumption of marijuana in lounges or for retail dispensaries to operate within their jurisdiction.

According to a marijuana opt-out tracker run by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, approximately 31% of the villages have voted to opt-out of hosting cannabis dispensaries in the area, although the Associated Press this entails the loss of revenue. Meanwhile, the numbers of those who opposed cannabis consumption lounges are slightly higher.

NY Localities Steer Clear of Cannabis Sales

As of writing and with 16 more days left until the deadline, the marijuana opt-out tracker of the Rockefeller Institute of Government shows that out of 1,517 municipalities in the state of New York, 433 have decided to opt of out cannabis retail dispensary sales.

On the other hand, a slightly higher number at 487 out of 1,517 municipalities are against having cannabis consumption sites within their area.

Democrat & Chronicle said that although many of these are towns and villages, there are also other cities that have joined the movement. These include Long Beach in Nassau County, Middletown in Orange County, and Rye in Westchester County.

Speaking on their decision to opt-out, Anita Seefried-Brown from the Alliance for Better Communities located in Watertown, New York, said, “We are concerned that dispensaries in our neighborhoods will normalize the use of marijuana even further than it already is.” Watertown has decided to steer clear of sales.

Just recently, Newsday reports that one of the latest towns to join this roster and opt of out marijuana sales is no other than Huntington. The board reportedly took a vote on Tuesday, December 14, 2021, will all five members voting in favor of opting out of the cannabis dispensaries and consumptions sites.

Retail Cannabis Market

Rockefeller Institute of Government spokesperson Freeman Klopott said of the relatively high numbers opposing the marketplace, “There no surprise that they’ve acted ahead of the deadline, and we expect some will choose to fully join the marketplace as we build a new, safe, regulated cannabis industry that protects public health and creates opportunity.”

According to the Associated Press, many of those who opposed retail cannabis sales as well as legal consumption sites stemmed from older generations. Meanwhile, more younger people were in support of local sales. The Town of Goshen reportedly won by a single vote in favor of those who wanted to have local sales in the area.

The executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities Mike Cerra also said that approximately 70% of municipalities in the state have also opted out of having different cannabis establishments.

However, with numerous towns opting out way ahead of the deadline last August 21, 2021, Cerra reportedly found that there are some towns that are now reconsidering joining as the state of New Jersey moves to a larger retail cannabis market. The same fate could await New York municipalities as well with still a few weeks left before the deadline.

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