Should legal marijuana be sold in Monroe County? It could be up to Rochester and your town

March 18, 2019 07:08 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- News10NBC wanted to know where the Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo stands on allowing the sale of legal marijuana in Monroe County, if and when the state law passes.

News10NBC has new information that is affecting the county's decision.  


As the bill is written, big cities and counties can opt out of legal marijuana, meaning they could ban the manufacturing and sale of it. 

But now, the talk in Albany is to move that power to all cities and towns. We learned that when we spoke to the county executive on Monday.

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo says she still hasn't decided whether Monroe County will opt in or opt out of legal marijuana sales. 

Cheryl Dinolfo, Monroe County executive: "What I can assure our residents here in Monroe County is that we're looking at this very seriously."

News10NBC showed the county executive a new poll from Siena College which says 53 percent of New Yorkers support legalizing marijuana while 43 percent oppose legalizing it. 

News10NBC also showed Dinolfo the counties that say they are or are leaning towards opting out.  

This includes: Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island, Rockland and Putnam counties north of New York City (Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell said the county is "leaning" towards opting out based on conversations with police and school superintendents), and Chemung County on the southern tier. 

News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "So why not here?"

Dinolfo: "Well, right now it is very unclear whether this will be a county responsibilty or even a county perogative."

Here's what Dinolfo is talking about.

Right now, the marijuana bill says counties and cities with a population of more than 100,000 people can opt to ban the sale of legal marijuana. But the debate in the state legislature includes moving that authority to cities and towns. 

Mike Murphy, the spokesman for the senate president, told News10NBC in an email, "It is something we are discussing as budget negotiations move forward."

If it changes, it means the City of Rochester and the 19 towns in Monroe County could choose to allow marijuana sales or not. 

Dinolfo: "If I were the governor, I would withhold this legislation and step back from it. There are way too many unanswered questions."

News10NBC has already started asking towns if they would opt in or out. 

Now this is about the sale of legal marijuana. There is no opt out clause for the legal use of marijuana.

News10NBC's reporting shows that possessing small amounts of marijuana is effectively decriminalized in Monroe County already. What the state law would do is stop people from getting tickets. 


Berkeley Brean

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