Weed isn’t easy to come by in some parts of New York. Legally, that is.
Finding affordable cannabis real estate across New York is a challenge due to zoning and commercial restrictions; around 50% of New York’s 1,520 municipalities have opted out of adult-use retail according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, an Albany-based public policy think tank.
Long Island is emblematic of that problem. According to the Rockefeller Institute, only around 10% of jurisdictions on Long Island are realistically operational for retail cannabis business. That means business is largely missing out on the 3 million residents of Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Retail opt-outs are a key reason why there are so few dispensaries even after the state green \lit recreational sales in December. When New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) was enacted in March two years ago, it gave localities until the last day of 2021, to opt out of adult-use sales and consumption areas. Most of them did do so, though legislation or a referendum could get them opted in. Municipalities cannot opt out of cannabis processing, cultivation, distribution, and delivery.
Rockefeller Institute Data shows only five of 69 Nassau municipalities have opted in: Kings Point, Mill Neck, Plandome, Oyster Bay Cove, and Saddle Rock. In Suffolk County, 11 of 42 municipalities have done so.
In addition, New York has imposed distinct zoning regulations for marijuana stores. This practice is common in other states. No dispensary can be on the same road or within 500 feet of a “community facility” and there must be a 1,000-foot buffer between stores in municipalities that have greater than 20,000 residents (2,000 feet for communities that have fewer). Insiders see these restrictions as huge challenges.
This problem of paucity is compounded by the fact that illegal dispensaries are plentiful across New York State, an issue Governor Kathy Hochul has pledged to tackle. New York has a problem of too few legal retailers and too many illegal ones, a combination that some fear could gut a potentially billion-dollar market for New York.
Discussion about this post