The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), passed in New York in March of this year, legalized the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana and laid the groundwork for a complex system by which state government could potentially profit from the sale of this dangerous drug.
While the passage of the MRTA was deeply misguided, the legislation offered New York’s municipalities one crumb of comfort by allowing them to opt out of certain provisions of the law. Specifically, the MRTA allows municipalities to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries to open within their borders. It also lets municipalities ban marijuana lounges or other establishments at which recreational marijuana may be consumed. The MRTA contains a December 31, 2021 deadline for municipalities to opt out of either of these provisions.
Sen. George Borrello has introduced a bill (Bill S.7369-Borrello) that would extend the MRTA’s opt-out deadline to December 31, 2022. The Senator has stated that local officials have expressed great frustration about the incomplete information they have received from the state about the implementation of the MRTA. According to Sen. Borrello, “‘Local elected officials are being asked to make important decisions with zero information. It is unfair of the state to maintain the original deadline when implementation of the law is at least six months behind.’”
At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we would prefer that the Legislature recognize the error of its ways and repeal the MRTA altogether. Failing that, it makes sense to give cities, towns, and villages additional time so that they may make informed decisions about whether to opt out of any portion of the MRTA.