On March 31, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act” (the “MRTA”) to legalize recreational adult-use cannabis in New York State. Under Section 131(2) of the MRTA, towns, cities and villages are permitted to pass local laws and regulations governing the time, place and manner of the operation of licensed adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries and/or on-site consumption sites, provided such laws do not make the operation of such licensed retail dispensaries or on-site consumption sites unreasonably impracticable as determined by the New York State Cannabis Control Board (the “CCB”). Regulations adopted by municipalities must not conflict with the statewide regulations to be adopted by the CCB for adult-use retail dispensaries and on-site consumption sites or other certain other aspects of the adult-use marijuana industry including cultivation, manufacturing and distribution. The CCB is currently drafting these regulations and has issued a municipality zoning survey to obtain input from municipalities to help guide them in creating statewide regulations that support municipal priorities.
An adult-use retail dispensary license authorizes the acquisition, possession, sale and delivery of cannabis from the licensed premises directly to cannabis consumers. An adult-use on-site consumption license authorizes the use of cannabis and cannabis products at the premises by cannabis consumers. Cities, towns and villages that did not “opt out” of allowing retail dispensaries or on-site consumption sites within their boundaries may adopt local laws establishing reasonable time(s), place(s) and operational restrictions on these facilities. For example, cities, towns, and villages are permitted to pass laws and regulations pertaining to local zoning and adherence to local building codes. In addition, the CCB has specifically identified the following topics that are subject to reasonable local regulation:
- Hours of operation
- Restrictions in historical districts;
- Traffic density control;
- Nuisance (i.e., odor and noise); and
- Local general ordinances that are not cannabis industry specific.
Any zoning regulations adopted by municipalities may not conflict with any statewide regulations soon to be promulgated by the CCB. To that end, the CCB has identified the following areas that the Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) and the CCB will address through statewide regulations:
- Applications for licensure;
- Applicant requirements;
- Selection of applicants;
- Fees associated with applications or licensure; and
- Site selection criteria (such as proximity to a school or place of worship).
In an effort to gain a better understanding of local officials’ concerns and the approaches that they are considering taking with respect to adult-use cannabis business regulations in their community, the OCM and CCB are attempting to work with municipalities to determine what constitutes “time, place and manner regulations” that are not “unreasonably impracticable.” To further this goal, the OCM and CCB are asking local officials to complete a survey to help guide these agencies in their efforts to create statewide regulations that support municipal priorities. It is anticipated that the State’s regulation will be promulgated in the coming months.
Local officials are encouraged to complete the survey, which can be accessed online by clicking here. The survey must be completed and submitted no later than Wednesday, August 10, 2022. For questions on the MRTA, or any other inquiries regarding municipal issues, please contact Eric L. Gordon or Drew Victoria Gamils or any other attorney in our Municipal Law Practice Group.
 A municipality’s deadline to opt out of allowing adult-use dispensaries and/or adult-use social consumption sites to operate within their boundaries was December 31, 2021.