Contact Us for a Free Consultation 212-842-2480


Question: Can Counties, Cities, Towns, or Villages “Opt-Out” of Adult Use Cannabis retail sales and social consumption sites?

Posted by David Holland | Apr 25, 2021 | 0 Comments


In short, under the MRTA, only cities, towns, and villages may opt-out of having adult use cannabis and social consumption sites in their jurisdiction. However, they cannot opt-out prior to the passage of the rules to come from the OCM and CCB regarding the adult use program.

            While they may no opt-out until such time, the municipalities can draft and pass “time, place, and manner” restrictions on any adult use retail or social consumption site to regulate and ensure quality of life for the citizens of their jurisdiction.

            If a municipality chooses to opt-out, a referendum vote can be had to overturn the opt-out decision by petition process with 10% of those registered voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election signing the petitions.

            For more specific citations to the issue please see the cites below from Article 6 of the MRTA:

MRTA Article 6, Section § 131. Local opt-out; municipal control and preemption. 1. The licensure and establishment of a retail dispensary license and/or on-site consumption license under the provisions of article four of this chapter authorizing the retail sale of adult-use cannabis to cannabis consumers shall not be applicable to a town, city or village which, after the effective date of this chapter, and, on or before the later of December thirty-first, two thousand twenty-one or nine months after the effective date of this section, adopts a local law, subject to permissive referendum governed by section twenty-four of the municipal home rule law, requesting the cannabis control board to prohibit the establishment of such retail dispensary licenses and/or on-site consumption licenses contained in article four of this chapter, within the jurisdiction of the town, city or village. Provided, however, that any town law shall apply to the area of the town outside of any village within such town. No local law may be adopted after the later of December thirty-first, two thousand twenty-one or nine months after the effective date of this section prohibiting the establishment of retail dispensary licenses and/or on-site consumption licenses; provided, however, that a local law repealing such prohibition may be adopted after such date.

MRTA, Article 6, Section 131 (MRTA pg. 70)

  • This suggests that a City cannot opt out prospectively until after the 12/31/2021 or 9 months after it becomes effective (when OCM/CCB pass final rules), but can pass Time, Place, and Manner restrictions prospectively now.
  • Opt-Out determination is subject to a voter referendum to repeal the Opt-Out decision under Section 24 of the Municipal Home Rule Law,

MRTA, Article 6, Section 24, NY MUNICIPAL HOME RULE LAW - “1. a. A local law adopted by a county, city or town and subject to referendum on petition as provided in this section or in any other state statute, if not also subject to mandatory referendum, shall not take effect until at least forty-five days after its adoption; nor until approved by the affirmative vote of a majority of the qualified electors of the local government voting on a proposition for its approval if within forty-five days after its adoption there be filed with the clerk a petition protesting against such local law, signed and authenticated as herein required by qualified electors of such local government, registered to vote therein at the last preceding general election, in number equal to at least ten per centum of the total number of votes cast for governor at the last gubernatorial election in such local government.”

N.Y. Mun. Home Rule Law 24 (McKinney)

**Petition signatures must be 10% or more of registered voters who voted in last gubernatorial election.

MRTA, Article 6, Section 131(2) – County, City, Town, Village are preempted from passing any law or ordinance to opt out in advance of the dates in Sect. 131(1), but may pass Time, Place, and Manner regulations in anticipation of any adult use or on-site consumption license being issued initially or after a voter referendum repealing an Opt-Out determination.

About the Author

David Holland

As Executive Director of Empire State NORML and President of the New York City Cannabis Industry Association, David has been a leading advocate in the cannabis space for over 20 years. He has represented clients in marijuana related proceedings everywhere from traffic court to the United States Supreme Court, and he helped obtain clemency for five elderly prisoners servicing life without parole for marijuana. David also handles complex civil and criminal litigation in other areas including employment, First Amendment, and business.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today

The Law Offices of David Clifford Holland, PC is committed to answering your questions about Cannabis Busniess Start-Up & Advocacy, Cannabis Law, Employment Law, First Amendment Law, Complex Civil Litigation and Criminal Defense in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and beyond.

We offer a Free Consultation and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Office Location

Offices in New York City and Sullivan County
By Appointment Only