With authorized gross sales of leisure hashish in New York nonetheless months away, state regulators are cracking down on unlicensed companies which have jumped the gun and are already promoting weed. Final week, officers with the New York Workplace of Hashish Administration (OCM) publicly recognized 52 companies which have been despatched cease-and-desist orders directing the retailers to cease all illicit hashish gross sales.
“You’re hereby directed to stop any, and all, criminality instantly,” learn the cease-and-desist letters quoted by The Gothamist. “Failure to stop this exercise places your skill to acquire a license within the authorized hashish market at substantial threat.”
The OCM added that the recognized retailers have been falsely depicting their companies as licensed hashish dispensaries. OCM Chair Tremaine Wright mentioned in a press launch that unlicensed gross sales, together with by way of companies that present ostensibly free marijuana merchandise with the acquisition of different merchandise, are unlawful and pose a well being threat to the neighborhood.
“There aren’t any companies at the moment licensed to promote adult-use hashish in New York State. Promoting any merchandise or taking a donation, after which gifting a buyer a bag of untested hashish does certainly depend as a sale below New York’s Hashish Legislation,” Wright said in a statement from the company. “You want a license to promote hashish in New York. Licensed gross sales and a regulated market are the one means New York’s clients might be assured that the hashish merchandise they’re buying have been examined and tracked from seed to sale. Sale of untested merchandise put lives in danger.”
Companies Face Everlasting Ban from Authorized Weed Trade
The cease-and-desist letters despatched by the OCM observe that continued illicit gross sales of marijuana by the recognized retailers will make the companies ineligible to obtain a hashish enterprise license from the company sooner or later. If the enterprise storefronts named by the company fail to finish operations instantly, they are going to be referred to Hashish Management Board “for everlasting barring from receiving any hashish licenses in New York State,” the company said.
“These shops are masquerading as licensed, regulated companies, however they’re nothing of the type. They aren’t creating alternative, they’re creating confusion – New Yorkers assume they’re shopping for a high-quality, examined product once they aren’t,” mentioned Chris Alexander, government director of the Workplace of Hashish Administration. “Not solely are these shops working in violation of New York’s Hashish Legislation, however additionally they are breaking state tax and several other municipal legal guidelines. I stay up for working with different regulatory our bodies throughout the state to carry these shops accountable for his or her flagrant violations of the regulation.”
The recognized companies have been initially despatched cease-and-desist orders in February, advising them that their operations have been unlawful below the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which was handed by New York lawmakers final yr. The OCM introduced the regulatory motion on the time however declined to publicly determine the affected retailers. However after strain from native media, the OCM made the listing of storefronts that had been warned by the company obtainable final week.
“We now have an obligation to guard New Yorkers from identified dangers and to strengthen the inspiration of the authorized, regulated market we’re constructing. We are going to meet the targets of the MRTA to construct an inclusive, equitable and secure trade,” Wright said in February. “Due to this fact, these violators should cease their exercise instantly, or face the implications.”
Extra Retailers Being Investigated
The OCM additionally famous final week that it has obtained data from regulation enforcement and most of the people about further retailers who could also be promoting hashish in violation of the regulation and might be reviewing the guidelines for attainable further regulatory motion. The company added that till gross sales of adult-use start at licensed retailers, which is anticipated to occur later this yr, the one authorized solution to procure secure, lab-tested hashish is thru the state’s regulated medical marijuana program.
“New York is constructing probably the most equitable hashish trade within the nation, one which prioritizes these communities most harmed below hashish prohibition. Shops promoting unregulated hashish merchandise with out licenses undercut these efforts. Plain and easy,” mentioned Damian Fagon, OCM chief fairness officer. “Illicit shops don’t contribute to our communities, they don’t help our public colleges and so they don’t defend customers. That’s why we’re working with companions throughout [the] authorities to analyze these operations and maintain them accountable.”
One of many operations recognized final week by the OCM is the Empire Hashish Membership, which has two places in Manhattan. At Empire, clients buy a each day or month-to-month membership to the membership and obtain hashish as a free reward. Steve Zissou, a lawyer representing Empire, mentioned that the corporate is assured that its operation is authorized below the MRTA, which defines what constitutes a “sale” of hashish and particularly permits the switch of as much as three ounces of hashish “with out compensation.”
“Empire’s enterprise mannequin is predicated on that,” mentioned Zissou. “It’s a non-charitable, not-for-profit hashish dispensary that doesn’t obtain compensation for the switch of hashish.”
The lawyer added that Empire is ready to defend its place in courtroom if crucial.
“There’s an previous saying: If you would like peace, put together for warfare,” Zissou mentioned. “And so Empire desires peace, however they’re ready for warfare if and when it comes.”