Long Island doesn’t want to participate in New York’s cannabis program

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Long Island isn’t prepared to embrace widespread cannabis retail options

While it is true that many would like to be part of the lucrative cannabis market in New York, Long Island seems to have no interest whatsoever. Local officials made it clear that the region has no plans to sell cannabis at retail, limiting options for store operators.

A while back, Empire State regulators unveiled plans to double recreational marijuana retail licenses to 300 for social equity applicants. This news was clearly welcomed by local marijuana operators and other industry advocates.

On the other hand, some concerns arose, especially related to finding affordable cannabis real estate in much of the state due to commercial and zoning restrictions. According to Albany-based public policy think tank the Rockefeller Institute of Government, about half of New York’s 1,520 municipalities have opted out of adult-use retail.

Long Island, known for being a densely populated area, was one of them. The new licensing expansion has exacerbated an uphill struggle to find zoned properties in Nassau and Suffolk counties, which together are generally known as Long Island.

“The opt-out problem is actually more prevalent on Long Island than anywhere else in New York,” said David Feder, a cannabis attorney in the state. “It’s a major problem not only for the CAURD licensees who were granted this preliminary approval because there are limited locations to find, but it creates an even more challenging problem for the next round of licensees.”

The retail opt-out options are one of the reasons why only five licensed dispensaries in the state have opened doors nearly three months after the launch of recreational sales in the state late last year. With Long Island out of the picture, movement is likely to remain just as slow as time goes on.