New York Cannabis: The Town of Riverhead Voted Not to Opt Out (It’s a Big Deal)

As we continue to wait for Governor Andrew Cuomo to nominate a Chairperson for the Cannabis Control Board (CCB), effectively kickstarting the rule making process, a surprising and welcome piece of news came down. On July 7, 2021, the Town of Riverhead voted not to opt out of allowing retail dispensaries and on-site consumption locations in Riverhead.

As a brief refresher, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) includes a provision that allows any town, city, or village to adopt local law to prohibit the retail dispensaries or on-site consumption locations in their jurisdiction, provided the law is adopted by December 31, 2021.

Riverhead choosing to embrace retail and on-site consumption cannabis establishments is an important indicator for Long Island’s openness to recreational cannabis. Riverhead is the effective “capital” of Long Island’s Suffolk County, a conservative stronghold. For context, Suffolk County’s courts and administrative agencies are all located in Riverhead.

With that said, it was close. The vote to not opt out was 3-2. The three board members who voted against opting out publicly stated that by allowing recreational and on-site consumption establishments in Riverhead, the town would be in a better position to regulate where, when, and how the

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