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Cayuga County town reconsiders marijuana 'opt out'

From the Coverage: Who's 'opting out' of marijuana sales in the Cayuga County area? series
Cannabis

A Cayuga County town may have changed its mind about "opting out" of parts of New York state's marijuana law.

The town of Sennett has drafted a local law prohibiting marijuana dispensaries and consumption sites from opening there, Supervisor Tom Gray told The Citizen on Tuesday.

The town board will hold a public hearing on the law at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16. It has until Dec. 31 to pass the law. As a condition of the state's Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, municipalities cannot opt out after that deadline. However, municipalities that do pass local laws prohibiting marijuana businesses can opt back in by repealing their laws at any time.

Those conditions led the board to reconsider opting out, Gray said. Earlier this month, he told The Citizen the town wouldn't, as the board believed marijuana would be sold down the commercial strip of Grant Avenue in the city of Auburn anyway. That belief was confirmed last week, when Auburn's mayor and city councilors told The Citizen they are unanimously against opting out.

Gray said Sennett's incoming supervisor, Tom Blair, asked the board to reconsider opting out so the town can study the issue more carefully.

"The key is if you don't opt out, you never can. And if it's a failure, then you're in trouble," Gray said. 

Local laws opting out of marijuana retailers and consumption sites are subject to the state's permissive referendum process, which gives residents who object to the law 45 days before it takes effect to petition for a public vote. At least 10% of the municipality's residents who voted in the last governor's election (2018) have to sign the petition.

Municipalities that don't opt out will collect a 3% tax on marijuana sales. The county where the municipality is located will collect an additional 1% tax.

It is not yet known when marijuana retailers and consumption sites will be able to open in New York. When the state passed its law, licensing was expected to begin April 1, 2022, but delays in the appointment of officers to the Cannabis Control Board have likewise delayed the finalization of rules and regulations for those and other marijuana businesses.

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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I edit The Citizen's features section, Lake Life, and weekly entertainment guide, Go. I've also been writing for The Citizen and auburnpub.com since 2006, covering arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.

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