Local Gov’t Takes a Hit Under Proposal to Legalize Marijuana

March 27, 2019

A significant portion of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s original fiscal year 2020 budget proposal discusses in detail his idea for a “Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act,” to be known colloquially as the “cannabis law.” As proposed, the governor’s bill would create and amend existing laws to legalize adult-use cannabis, consolidate governance of all forms of cannabis, and develop a regulatory structure to oversee the licensure, cultivation, production, distribution, sale, and taxation of cannabis within the state.

The governor has conceded that Albany will not be able to reach agreement on the legalization of recreational marijuana in time for it to be included in the budget. It nevertheless appears likely that New Yorkers will see marijuana become legal in the state sometime in the near future. One major reason for that, of course, is the possibility of the state receiving millions of dollars in tax revenue from the sale of cannabis. The governor’s proposal estimates $83 million in tax revenue in fiscal year 2021, rising to $184 million in fiscal year 2024, from the sale of cannabis.

Because the governor’s cannabis law proposal may very well form the basis of the bill that lawmakers ultimately agree to adopt, its details have been subject to much discussion and review. This column focuses on a distinct aspect of the governor’s proposed cannabis bill that is of great significance to local municipalities: The ability—or, more precisely, the inability—of villages and towns to opt out of the law under the bill as proposed.

Anthony S. Guardino, a partner with the law firm of Farrell Fritz, P.C., practices in the areas of land use, zoning, and environmental law. Resident in the firm’s office in Hauppauge, Long Island, he can be reached at aguardino@farrellfritz.com.

Reprinted with permission from New York Law Journal, Wednesday, March 27, 2019, Vol 261 – No. 58

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