New York

NY’s lax enforcement allows unlicensed hemp retailers to proliferate (Your Letters)

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Since cannabis was legalized in New York in March 2021, we have seen an onslaught of unlicensed cannabis retailers across the state. The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) recently submitted draft regulations for enforcement and opened the first dispensary on December 29, 2022, with additional CAURD dispensaries to open shortly. Municipalities and law enforcement have cracked down in various areas of the state, but there has been no consequence.

New York issued the licenses for cannabinoid hemp retailers in January 2021, but the licenses were not made available until January 2022. According to the OCM website, businesses that sell cannabinoid hemp products (both online and in person) must obtain a cannabinoid hemp retailer’s license from the office. As a licensed cannabinoid hemp (CBD) retailer from the start, I have always questioned OCM’s lack of enforcement of the hemp program.

To substantiate my concerns, I searched the list of licensed retailers in Onondaga County, where my CBD business is located, and found a total of 42 licensees, not all of which may actually sell CBD products. From my observation, there are more than 42 retailers in Onondaga County that sell CBD products that are not licensed, and I can safely say that there are more than 42 retailers in the town of Salina alone, which is located in Onondaga County are selling CBD and are not licensed. Can you imagine the number of unlicensed cannabinoid retailers currently operating in the state?

OCM recently released its 2022 annual report. In the report, they state that the 2022 cannabinoid hemp program has generated over $860,000 in application and licensing fees. They also propose generating $323,000 by mid-fiscal 2023. These numbers would be much higher if there were actual enforcement in the retail hemp CBD business.

There have been other licensed companies that have complained to OCM about the same issue and it seems nothing happened. Additionally, OCM has continued to express its support for small businesses in the hemp and cannabis industry. But without enforcement, small businesses specializing only in CBD and hemp products struggle to survive among the many unlicensed CBD retailers. These unlicensed retailers range from smoke shops, corner shops, major drug stores, supermarkets, gas stations, hair salons, pet shops and the list goes on.

In my opinion, OCM could send its enforcement team out to practice with the unlicensed hemp dealers so they are prepared when they start enforcement for unlicensed cannabis businesses. This would also demonstrate to existing licensed CBD retailers that OCM does indeed support industrial and small business hemp retailers. Hopefully enforcement in the cannabis industry will be better than what we’ve seen for the hemp industry.

Jim Charon

Proprietor, Syracuse Hemporium


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