New York towns have just two weeks left to ban cannabis stores and consumption lounges under the state’s marijuana legalization law signed earlier this year. Those that don't opt-out by December 31 cannot restrict operations going forward, and the timeline has triggered a flurry of local government hearings where the safety and benefit of legal marijuana are being debated anew.
So far, elected officials in 28% of New York’s more than 1,500 municipalities have voted to opt out of allowing dispensaries, while 32% opted out of consumption sites, according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, which is tracking the votes, though no clear pattern has emerged. Communities that have voted no span the political and geographic divide.
New York City is not opting out. Towns in the Hamptons are.
But the contours of the debate underway are similar throughout the state: Supporters want tax revenue from cannabis stores and see marijuana as alcohol's less harmful little cousin. Opponents voice concern over what effect marijuana will have on children.