After many years of hoping and waiting, New York state finally legalized recreational marijuana in early 2021. But as we approach the new year, many wonder about the retail sale of weed. Where are the dispensaries? From what we understand, there is still a lot of paperwork and loopholes to go through before we start seeing dispensaries open up across the state. This could take a while to get the cannabis industry going. The Chairman of the New York State Cannabis Expo & Conference remains optimistic:

The application process should begin next year so we can get everything in order so we can have these dispensaries open in a timely fashion.

First, lawmakers had to create and then appoint members to the Office of Cannabis Management. Then, the long and tedious process of issuing licenses and regulations begins. CBS says that no licenses have been issued as of yet. There are other questions as well. For example, how close could a new dispensary be to a school or church? What cities and towns may opt-in or out? You also have to factor in the bureaucratic delays when Governor Cuomo (who signed the new law) stepped down in late summer.

As of now, the only non-medical legal dispensaries in the state are on tribal territories, which are sovereign from the state government. The answer for the rest of the state may be a ways off, as some feel the process to open dispensaries could go well into 2023. New York's marijuana laws currently allow one to possess up to three ounces of cannabis.

Meanwhile, there are more immediate concerns. Can your employer still drug test you for weed? In late March, then-Governor Cuomo officially signed a law that will allow the legal use of recreational cannabis in New York State for those 21 and older. The New York Department of Labor has some answers to our questions.

The new guidelines say that unless you look stoned on the job, most employers can not test you for marijuana. If you go to work reeking of weed, your boss can't fire you. This doesn't mean you can necessarily bring weed to work though, as employers still have the right to not allow a worker to have it on the job site. Your boss also can tell you not to smoke it while on your lunch break, according to the laws. Marijuana is also still illegal on a federal level, so federal and state laws still remain in effect for some employees, such as police officers. Some leaders, such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have pushed to federally legalize weed.

So, the answer is that most employees are now exempt. Of course, the new guidelines say that an employer must provide “objectively observable" proof that weed may be affecting an employee's job performance, so this still opens a bit of a gray area in some cases. However, the DOL has strict rules before an employer can penalize an employee over impairment.

Hudson Valley Towns Allowing the Sale of Marijuana

The following towns have voted to allow the sale of marijuana. This list is complete as of December 23, 2021. Municipalities have until 12/31 to finalize their decisions.

Legal Sales of Marijuana in New York Will Likely Take Years

Sorry to ruin your high. Despite lawmakers reaching a deal to legalize pot across New York lawmakers say it's gonna be a long time before sales start. Here's why. 

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