Westhampton Beach Opts Out of Legal Pot Sales

Cannabis entrepreneur Fetti lights a hybrid strain joint of his marijuana brand "PowerPuff" at a home in New York, U.S. April 1, 2021.
Cannabis entrepreneur Fetti lights a hybrid strain joint of his marijuana brand "PowerPuff" at a home in New York, U.S. April 1, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The Village of Westhampton Beach is the latest East End municipality to opt out of allowing recently legalized recreational marijuana to be sold at pot shops or cannabis cafes within its borders.

The village board unanimously passed the opt-out legislation at its board meeting on October 7.

“The Village of Westhampton Beach … is … prohibiting the issuance of licenses for, and the operation of, retail cannabis dispensaries and/or on-site cannabis consumption establishments in the village,” the village code states.

New York State legalized recreational marijuana possession and consumption in March, but towns and villages have until December 31 to decide whether to opt out of allowing sales or on-site consumption in their communities. But since the neighboring Shinnecock Indian Nation announced plans to open a dispensary in Southampton this year, and the tribe is not bound by town laws, some, especially Town of Southampton leaders, have questioned whether opting out would be effective.

The Town of Shelter Island passed a measure in May opting out of sales and on-site consumption of marijuana and the Village of Southampton followed suit in September. The Riverhead Town Board voted down an opt-out proposal in June. Other villages and towns across the East End are debating whether to opt out as well.

The state law allows residents of localities that opt out a chance to petition for a referendum giving voters a chance to decide whether to opt back in. Municipalities that opt out now can also vote to opt back in on their own at a later date.

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