While New York State’s Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act of 2021 allows people to grow up to six plants for their own consumption, it is still technically illegal to grow your own since the final regulations for home cultivation have not been established.
When it comes to local cities and towns accepting or declining New York State licensing opportunities under the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act of 2021, it’s pretty much a mix- melo: the village and the town of East Hampton are both excluded, the town of Southampton is in — but not its villages. The towns of Southold and Shelter Island have stood down, as has Greenport Village, and Riverhead is moving forward with local guidance for future operators of dispensaries and social drinking spaces.
New York’s landmark legalization law empowered municipalities to decide by the end of 2021 whether to allow cannabis dispensaries or on-site consumer cafes, and data compiled by the Rockefeller Institute for Government in Albany shows that ‘about half of the counties or municipalities in the state have opted for one or the other. To the west, the town of Brookhaven has opted for a catch: dispensaries and cafes are allowed, but only in industrial areas.
Even though localities have done their part in agreeing or not, legalization is in a state of liminality in New York as the Office of Cannabis Management acts to tighten the bones of the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act. For example, although the law allows individuals to grow up to six plants, it is still technically illegal to grow your own. “We still don’t have the final regulations or guidelines for home cultivation,” said David Falkowski, owner of Open Minded Organics in Bridgehampton, one of the first licensed hemp farms in the state. More broadly, he said: “We are still so far away from this being a law in force”,
Southampton City Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the city had drawn up new zoning regulations and would likely end up with a few pot-friendly zoning districts and many stipulations for dispensaries. They won’t be able to operate near schools, churches, playgrounds or libraries, “and there will be all sorts of limitations in terms of the size of the operation, there will be no signage, no exterior signage, no potting of leaves or things like that,” he says.
The City of Southampton opted for dispensaries and social drinking spaces, but its incorporated villages – Sagaponack, Southampton Village, Quogue, Westhampton Dunes, Westhampton Beach and North Haven – opted out. Sag Harbor, which straddles the townships of East Hampton and Southampton, also pulled out.
Southampton will allow pre-existing nightclubs or bars to switch from selling alcohol to selling cannabis (but not both), and Mr Schneiderman said an entrepreneur could build a social drinking nightclub – but that is unlikely due to permit barriers. “You could create one, but it’s quite difficult, and it would be easier to take an existing bar or nightclub and convert it.”
The supervisor added that Southampton was considering going the Brookhaven route and limiting pot businesses to industrial areas, but that would have validated a societal stigma of cannabis that the state is trying to unravel. The city allows adult entertainment businesses, he noted, but only in its industrial areas, and treats cannabis as “something we have to hide from society, like it’s a bad thing,” would help perpetuate the stigma. Also, there is not a lot of industrial land in the city that would be eligible.
The wildcard here is the town of East Hampton, which Mr. Falkowski believes will eventually join the budding pot economy. “We’re going to start to see municipalities slowly start to sign up based on local lobbying activity,” he said. There’s a lot of tax revenue at stake, and while East Hampton consumers will be allowed to grow, smoke, eat, and have pot delivered to their homes, the city won’t benefit from any tax revenue from the corporations. jar.
This was a driving force behind Southampton Town’s decision to participate, Mr Schneiderman said. “The removal would not have diminished use in any way, it would only have diminished revenue, and any resident of the city outside the [Shinnecock] Reservation could not have participated in this economic opportunity. Many locals want to see if they can take advantage of legalization.
The Shinnecock Nation is not subject to state licensing protocols and the city will not receive any tax revenue from sales on the reservation. “They’re moving forward with their own dispensaries,” Mr. Schneiderman said, “and it’s likely theirs will be up and running before the city’s.”
Mr Schneiderman added that the law also allows cannabis delivery services, “so that any town or city that had a dispensary could bring products to Southampton without taking the revenue from it, which could be used to counter the adverse consequences of legalization – whether it’s mental health, increased policing, whatever. It provides at least $1 million in annual tax revenue.
But the expected tax windfall is far from there, as the state is only now issuing its first licenses, while the Office of Cannabis Management continues its work on the regulatory front. Eventually, Mr Schneiderman said Southampton would likely end up with one or two dispensaries and/or social consumption lounges, “but I cannot guarantee that. It’s really up to the state.”
Mr Falkowski says he expects the Office of Cannabis Management to complete its work within a year, as he observed that the office “is just kind of a piecemeal thing. ‘, on a host of devilishly detailed weed issues – from eco-friendly packaging, to advice on public consumption, to rules governing the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis and cannabis products.
The emerging protocols on public consumption of legal weed are pretty basic: if you can’t smoke a cigarette in a particular place, you can’t smoke a joint there either. The exception is, of course, that anyone is free to smoke cigarettes in their vehicle, but smoking weed in your car on the Napeague stretch could result in hefty fines and jail time under the State’s strict impaired driving law.
In East Hampton, beach parking lots and shore exits are already off-limits to cigarette smokers, and the city recently passed an ordinance banning smoking and vaping within 500 feet of a lifeguard station while the guards are on duty. Southampton is considering an ordinance that would ban smoking in public parks, including its patrolled beaches, North Sea Park, Red Creek Park and elsewhere. “In some cases, entire parks are now listed as smoke-free parks,” Schneiderman said, “and that covers pot and cigarettes.”