With little fanfare, a great pot divide is opening between cities and suburbs — and disadvantaged urban neighborhoods, long suffering from drug use, look again to be the losers, denied even the choice the more affluent are exercising.
According to the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s frequently updated Marijuana Opt-Out Tracker, 588 of 1,518 municipalities have resisted the blandishments of new tax revenues and just said no to marijuana retailers, while 670 have turned down consumption sites — what the Dutch euphemistically call “coffee shops.”
Hundreds of towns have yet to decide. In New Jersey, where the opt-out deadline passed in August, 71 percent of local governments decided to keep pot out.
It’s revealing to review who’s giving thumbs up to weed and who’s resisting its temptation. Cities large and small — New York, White Plains, Schenectady, Mount Vernon, Peekskill, Yonkers — have opted in. But adjoining suburbs are opting out in droves: Scarsdale, Pelham and Bronxville have. No municipality in Nassau County — not one — has opted in.
There’s money involved. Localities will receive 4 percent of the 9 percent state excise tax — and cities under budget pressure may see a “pot” of gold.