To opt-in or opt-out? Municipalities decide if cannabis dispensaries will come to Southern Tier

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Marijuana continues to be a hot topic in New York State as towns and cities decide if they are in or out when it comes to selling cannabis within their municipalities. Under New York law, local governments have until December 31 to opt-in.

If a town does opt-out, they can later opt back in; however, it is unclear if any licenses will remain for that municipality. There are a fixed number of licenses that will be issued by the state to dispensaries that will operate in towns that opted in.

In the Southern Tier, several municipalities are considering the new laws at city and town council meetings.

“Most communities around us are not opting out for staying and so wouldn’t make any sense for us to opt-out at this point,” City of Elmira Mayor Daniel Mandell told 18 News Friday.

In Corning, the council is deciding on rules and regulations for such dispensaries and is allowing for public comment ahead of the December 6 meeting. At that time, Mayor Bill Boland of Corning will cast his vote on opting in or out.

For Mayor Buckley and the Hornell City Council, they say more information will become available after Monday’s meeting and a vote will come in December.

The City of Elmira is moving forward with dispensaries in the city, but they plan to create regulations to keep residents safe.

“The bottom line is this the marijuana law has been passed. It’s legal. It’s here. We’re working on the guidelines to make sure the community is safe, and everything is done within the guidelines of the law,” Mayor Mandell added.

The cities are deciding if they want to sell marijuana and cannabis within their city limits. It is legal in New York and residents are free to purchase, use or deliver it. Cannabis experts say any and all marijuana consumed or purchased in New York is grown and processed in the Empire State because it is illegal to transport it between states per federal law.

“State law allows for municipalities to opt-out of retail sales specifically on-premise consumption in or dispensaries,” Kaelan Castetter, vice president of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association, said.

Cannabis advocates say opting out would leave tax revenue on the table for municipalities. Those towns and cities who opt-in would then reap the profits.

“they are really opting out of the tax revenue. Three cents on every dollar spent goes back to the municipality and they will not be able to realize that,” Castetter concluded.

The Corning City Council will meet on December 6 to vote on opting in or out. The Hornell City Council will ultimately vote in December.

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