Across the United States, more and more states have enacted (either through the legislature or through ballot initiatives) cannabis/marijuana decriminalization laws, medical marijuana laws, and even adult use (sometimes known as “recreational”) marijuana laws. The national trend suggests that we may see wide-scale legalization sooner than many expect, even at the federal level. However, until the federal government takes action, cannabis/marijuana remains a Schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act, and is therefore illegal to cultivate, sell, and possess.
Here in New York, though, leaders at the highest level of political office have expressed varying degrees of support for such measures. Together, these factors suggest that municipalities, businesses, vendors, and farmers will soon be faced with a myriad of legal issues that they’ve never dealt with before. That’s why The Zoghlin Group is rolling out a series of blogs identifying and discussing some of the legal issues related to cannabis/marijuana here in New York.
Although cannabis/marijuana reform legislation has not yet passed in New York State, many local governments have already started to think about how legalization could affect them. For municipalities, the question will be how to regulate this new industry. The scope and content of such regulations will depend on what laws and regulatory systems New York State adopts, and whether state laws pre-empt local laws and regulations. Nonetheless, it’s likely that municipalities will retain authority to regulate specific areas of this emerging industry, such as through zoning and land use laws.
If your municipality has not yet prepared for state-wide legalization, it should consult with an experienced attorney for help, particularly with respect to zoning, land use, and municipal law issues.
Be sure to check-in with us again soon for our next blog on legal issues related to cannabis/marijuana.
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