New York marijuana: Riverhead Town voted not to opt out (this is a big deal)


As we continued to wait for Governor Andrew Cuomo to nominate the chairman of the Cannabis Control Board (CCB), the rulemaking process was effectively initiated, and a surprising and welcome news came. July 7, 2021, Heyuan Town Vote without opt-out Allow retail pharmacies and on-site consumption locations to be opened in Riverhead.

To recap briefly, the Marijuana Regulatory and Taxation Act (MRTA) includes a clause that allows any town, city, or village to adopt local laws and prohibit retail pharmacies or on-site consumption locations within its jurisdiction, provided that the law is passed by 2021 December 31.

Riverhead’s choice to accept retail and on-site cannabis consumption is an important indicator of Long Island’s opening to recreational cannabis. Heyuan is the effective “capital” of Suffolk County, Long Island, Conservative strongholdFor context, Suffolk County’s courts and administrative agencies are located in Riverhead.

Having said that, it is close. The voting result for not opt-out is 3-2. The three board members who voted against withdrawing publicly stated that by allowing the establishment of entertainment and on-site consumption venues in Riverhead, the town will be able to better regulate the location, time and method of business operations. Committee member Tim Hubbard also emphasized the impact of the black market, saying: “If we don’t allow it, the black market will flourish in Riverhead. This is not where we want people to buy it, but you To the problem.”

But what is more illustrative is that even the two board members who voted to withdraw were for purely practical reasons. Council member Ken Rothwell was one of those who opted out, and he emphasized that he hopes to wait for the MRTA to play a role in other Long Island towns. Yvette Aguiar, the town director, emphasized the lack of any rules and regulations in the industry, and pointed out that MRTA has “many problems and many unknowns.”

In addition to waiting for the CCB to release industry rules and regulations and details about the application process, the biggest uncertainty lies in whether the local New York jurisdiction will accept the cannabis industry. Riverhead’s vote against exit is a very positive development. Although Riverhead itself will not allow the cannabis industry to continue to develop on Long Island, (hopefully) this is an indicator that Nassau and Suffolk counties will choose to promote cannabis as a driving force for the Long Island economy.



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