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Rochester city officials move ahead with planning for cannabis sales

Town of Pittsford officials approved a measure that, if it remains in place, would block cannabis dispensaries and lounges from opening in the town.
CITY Magazine
file photo
Vials with cannabis; New York state approved the sale of recreational marijuana in March 2021.

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said this week that the city is gearing up for the framework that will be necessary to allow legal cannabis sales in the city, even if the first retail locations are not going to open for a number of months.

While city officials await final regulations on how marijuana can be sold in Rochester, Evans said that City Hall is not wasting any time, as it continues to work out its own regulatory process. It is possible that the state will not be finished with establishing regulations on cannabis sales until 2023. New York gave its initial approval to the recreational sale of cannabis in March 2021.

Evans said that he and his team are excited about being able to support local entrepreneurs, especially those who had been disproportionately impacted by previous enforcement of laws affecting the sale of cannabis.

“And the biggest part that I hear is that those who may not have the means to operate a business, that they somehow benefit from these opportunities and that no community is lost,” said Evans. “So this really represents an opportunity to help people who are interested in business.”

The mayor and city Corporation Counsel Linda Kingsley noted on Wednesday that there are already state regulations regarding where cannabis can be sold, in terms of proximity to places like schools or houses of worship. And Rochester will be working out its own zoning regulations.

Evans said that there already is a lot of industrial-type space in the city that potentially will have room for the new cannabis businesses.

The mayor noted that a number of nearby communities opted out of allowing cannabis sales, so he expects to see people from other local communities come into the city if they want to buy marijuana.

“We want to make sure that those coming in to take part in this understand that there are rules of engagement. “We expect them to uphold the dignity of our neighborhoods, when they come to take part in this legal business,” said Evans.

Kingsley said that the city can impose zoning and other regulations “as long as they don’t make the business operations unreasonably impractical.” She said city officials will look at how zoning can be used to determine where certain kinds of cannabis operations can be placed.

“We have retail dispensaries, we have consumption lounges, and then you have other businesses like the growers and the producers, which may be better placed in different locations throughout the city,” said Kingsley.

The first public information session on marijuana sales in Rochester will be held April 14. More details will be released soon about that session.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.