Many local governments expected to hesitate on…


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ALBANY —Quite a few municipalities throughout New York are more likely to choose out of the state’s new initiative permitting marijuana dispensaries to open, in keeping with native authorities consultants.

The state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, signed into legislation March 31, provides native governments till Dec. 31 to take themselves out of the combo of communities the place marijuana retailers can be opened.

If the municipalities don’t choose out by then, mentioned Peter Baynes, director of the state Convention of Mayors, then the companies can transfer in so long as they’re in compliance with native zoning rules.

“They have to do it by Dec. 31, or hold their peace,” Baynes mentioned of municipalities. They keep the choice of later selecting to permit the pot retailers and consumption lounges.

With greater than seven months earlier than the deadline, many mayors and different municipal leaders are utilizing the time to review their choices and weigh what they understand as potential destructive impacts from internet hosting a hashish enterprise versus the potential income that might be reeled in from regulated gross sales of marijuana merchandise, Baynes mentioned.

“Because of the way the state wrote the law, with the one-time opt out, I suspect a lot of communities, especially smaller suburban and rural ones, are going to decide to opt out, as a sort of placeholder,” he predicted.

Those who do choose out may nonetheless change their minds later and get entangled with the hashish program.

“I think there will be a large number of villages and some cities that decide to opt out and sort of sit back and see how the new law rolls out, no pun intended,” Baynes mentioned.

The Convention of Mayors has posted a mannequin ordinance for opting out on it site: nycom.org/pictures/paperwork/hashish/MRTA_Summary_-_April_15_2021.pdf

Native officers have additionally raised a number of questions as to whether or not they can regulate the smoking of marijuana in public areas, for the reason that legislation permits pot to be possessed by people whether or not the municipality permits hashish retailers or not.

To be able to ban marijuana smoking, the smoking of tobacco merchandise and vaping must be prohibited as properly, Baynes mentioned.

“Municipalities can’t bifurcate the definition of smoking,” he mentioned. “The state has already preempted that area.”

The net evaluation of the brand new legislation posted on-line by the convention does provide a breakdown of the place marijuana smoking is prohibited. For example, smoking weed is just not allowed in locations of employment, bars, eating places, indoor areas with a swimming pool, public transportation terminals, faculty campuses, together with dormitories, daycare facilities, and group houses for teens.

The convention additionally explains the legislation bars employers from discriminating in opposition to people based mostly marijuana use, although it does allow individuals to be self-discipline or fired if different legal guidelines or rules mandate such actions or if the worker is impaired on the job.

Patrick Phelan, director of the New York State Affiliation of Police Chiefs, mentioned members of group have many issues with the brand new legislation. One main concern includes the enforcement of native ordinances limiting smoking in public locations.

“Some chiefs are instructing their officers not to to intervene in what are commonly referred to as low-level offenses and not to take proactive enforcement actions,” mentioned Phelan, the previous police chief within the Rochester suburb of Greece.

Phelan mentioned he has already reached out to counterparts in Massachusetts, the place marijuana gross sales have been legalized in 2018, to get enter on their policing experiences.

The state legislation additionally permits for the licensing of on-site marijuana consumption lounges. Native governments that resolve to ban retail dispensaries also can preserve out the lounges, however they must act by Dec. 31.

A state Hashish Management Board can be empowered to problem the licenses for the consumption institutions. The board may think about such elements as impacts on site visitors, parking and the noise that may be generated at such companies.

The hashish legislation spells out necessities that efforts are made to help minority and ladies owned companies, distressed farmers, and repair disabled veterans who wish to create companies regulated underneath the statute.

Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and web sites. Attain him at jmahoney@cnhinews.com


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