The Yorktown Town Board voted unanimously last week to opt out of state regulations that permit marijuana dispensaries.
“It would be irresponsible for us to allow for a business when we don’t know what the rules of engagement are,” said Supervisor Matt Slater. “We still have questions on enforcement. We still have questions on breathalyzers.”
The New York State Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act became law in March and made marijuana consumption legal. The act also allowed municipalities to decide whether they will permit dispensaries in their jurisdictions.
“I cannot in good conscious vote yes for this,” said Councilman Tom Diana, a retired police officer, who cited the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana, which remains illegal.
The new marijuana law allows adults 21 and over to consume marijuana products legally. Yorktown cannot opt out of the provisions that make adult use of marijuana legal.
“Look at the problems we have with the illegal drugs,” said Councilman Ed Lachterman. “What does this say to our children?”
Several Town Board members cited concerns that marijuana is a gateway to substance abuse.
“Our children are the biggest accomplishment of our life’s work,” said Councilman Vishnu Patel. “You don’t want any child to die or get into the habit.”
Cannabis stores have already opened in Westchester County, including in White Plains. Town Board members said Yorktown’s future leaders could reconsider dispensaries once there is more clarity on regulations and enforcement.
“I would be going against everything that I told my two kids,” said Councilwoman Alice Roker. “My feeling is once we have a real law with real regulations, the next Town Board can consider what it wants to do.”
Other municipalities that have already opted out include Eastchester, Somers and North Castle. In Mount Kisco, village officials are also likely to opt out of the law. To allow retail marijuana sales, a municipality can choose to take no action between now and the end of the year.