Dobbs Ferry Votes Against Dispensaries, 4-3


To the applause of those attending both in person and virtually, the Village of Dobbs Ferry narrowly voted against allowing dispensaries within the village with a 4-3 vote, while the vote against cannabis lounges was voted down 6-1.

On Tuesday, Nov. 26, following several public hearings and town hall inquires, the Village of Dobbs Ferry Board of Trustees chose to “opt-out”, a term often used by the state where local towns deny the permutable addition of cannabis-related storefronts.

As of March 31 of 2021, the consumption and use of cannabis were signed into law by then New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as a part of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). The act, separate from the town’s own vote for use of dispensaries, allows clear substantiated goals for how marijuana will be advertised, marketed, and how permissible use should be appropriated.

In addition to MRTA, the state would allow its towns, villages, and municipalities to best execute the implementation of dispensaries and whether to allow them or not.  However, with the introduction of this act, many of the long-term regulations and laws proposed for cannabis dispensaries have yet to tested, furthering the additional pressure and fear of the unknown local legality-related issues.

With several other local towns and neighboring villages choosing to opt-out, for now, the choice seemed clear for Dobbs Ferry to follow suit. This vote disallowed Dobbs from becoming the focal point for dispensaries in Westchester County.

Unique to this case, New York has given its towns and villages a deadline of De­c. 31 to conclude whether they will choose to “opt-in” or “opt-out” of al­low­ing cannabis dis­pen­saries and lounges in their towns (villages).  Furthermore, the state law allows the towns to opt-out now with the opportunity to opt-in in the future. However, a vote to initially opt-in will not allow towns to then opt-out.

Simply put, if a town votes to opt-in, it can’t back out. If it is out, it can opt back in at a later date.

In conjunction with the legalization of cannabis in April, New York State implemented the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA).

Towns became aware of this vote as early as April of this year and have been conducting their due diligence to conduct a thorough examination of the law structure, licensing issues, and other such legal ramifications all the while keeping the citizens of that town at the forefront of any decision.

If or when the towns would opt-in the towns would control the whereabouts of the dispensaries/lounges, the hours of operation, and the manner in how the dispensaries will operate.

“This is clearly an issue that sparks some emotion,” stated Board of Trustee’s member and local business owner Christy Knell.

In a true battle of pro versus con, by far the biggest pro for each village to opt-in to these dispensaries and lounges is the tax incentives. While the sale of cannabis in New York state offers the state a 13 percent sales tax, local municipalities would benefit from the 40 percent tax revenue received if they were to add dispensaries, and 9 percent of the state’s sales tax accumulated tax revenue from cannabis sales would be reinvested into the school system with 20 percent of it going to drug awareness programs, according to the states Cannabis Review Board.

“Our infrastructure problems are growing more and more each year. Our taxes are already painful to accept,” added Knell.

With a village tax rate of 8.3 percent and a state tax rate of 8.8 percent, exceeding the national average of 3.65 percent (according to TurboTax), New York and in this case Dobbs Ferry should welcome any, and all tax incentives.

“Cannabis is legal, and nearby. It would be a shame not to capture any of that revenue to help our bottom line with the many infrastructure needs that are imminent.”

For now, cannabis dispensaries may be out of the picture in Dobbs Ferry but, certainly not out of frame.