Following an Oct. 31 report on Cayuga County municipalities “opting out” of parts of New York state’s marijuana law, The Citizen has learned of more municipalities that have made their decisions.
The village of Port Byron and the town of Mentz have opted out, which is shorthand for passing local laws that prohibit marijuana dispensaries and consumption sites from operating there. Municipalities can’t opt out of any other parts of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act signed into law on March 31. It allows the limited use, possession and home growth of marijuana.
The fellow northern Cayuga County town of Victory, meanwhile, has decided not to opt out.
Victory Town Supervisor Michael Wiggins told The Citizen the town decided to allow businesses to attempt the state’s licensing process and present their plans to the town’s planning board for review. Dispensary and consumption site licensing was expected to begin April 1, 2022, but delays in the appointment of officers to the state’s Cannabis Control Board has likely pushed that date back.
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Municipalities like Victory that choose not to opt out do not have to pass any laws, as the state law will permit the licensing of dispensaries and consumption sites there by default. In municipalities that do opt out, objecting residents have the 45 days until the law takes effect to petition for a permissive referendum that would put it up for a public vote at a special election.
The Mentz Town Board passed its local law at its Aug. 17 meeting. After a public hearing that yielded no comments, the board passed the law 5-0.
The village of Port Byron also received no public comments during the hearing it held at its board meeting Aug. 9. The board then passed its law 4-0.
Speaking to The Citizen on Wednesday, Port Byron Mayor Ron Wilson said the board decided not to allow dispensaries and consumption sites in the village for a few reasons.
Though the state law will direct 3% of sales at those businesses to the municipality where they take place, Wilson said he and the board were still skeptical the village would stand to gain much.
“The state’s going to let a small village make a lot of money on something they’re proposing? It ain’t going to happen that way, I don’t think,” Wilson said. “And we figured we weren’t going to make a lot of revenue because people are probably going to go to Auburn and buy it. Auburn’s probably going to allow it, I imagine. I don’t think they’re going to opt out.”
The city of Auburn has yet to make a decision about opting out. City council reviewed its options at an April meeting, but has not discussed the matter further.
Another reason Port Byron opted out, Wilson explained, was precautionary. Municipalities can’t opt out after the deadline of Dec. 31, but they can opt back in at any time. Before potentially giving the green light to marijuana businesses, though, the board wants to review the village’s zoning laws to ensure those businesses don’t open anywhere the board doesn’t approve.
“If we opt in,” Wilson said, “we want to have control over where it’s going to be located.”