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New York Raises Concerns Over Illicit Cannabis Shops

The New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) took part in the first ever subcommittee hearing on cannabis where concerns were raised over the proliferation of illicit cannabis shops.

Executive Director of the New York State Office of Cannabis Management Chris Alexander testified in front of The New York State Senate Subcommittee on Cannabis, where he also responded to concerns over the support of distressed farmers, as well as delivering updates on ongoing priorities and concerns.

At the hearing, insights into the state’s budding legal cannabis industry were provided and the launched of New York’s distressed farmer transition programme was announced.

Alexander stated: “Since legalisation, New Yorkers have had to deal with a proliferation of illegal cannabis businesses.

“Our story is not unique, but our problem is expansive. These businesses are not selling product grown by our small farmers, they are not run by equity entrepreneurs, and they are not contributing to the betterment of the communities in which they operate.”

Alexander highlighted that the OCM Enforcement Team has prioritised the shut down of these illicit operations, conducting almost 300 regulatory investigations across the state and seizing an estimated 10,000 pounds of illicit cannabis valued at approximately $50 million.

“…those numbers are only a small segment of the enforcement activity that our Team has engaged in because they do not count the work that has been done educating and empowering local governments and law enforcement entities to act as a force multiplier in this effort,” state Alexander.

“In recent weeks, we have leaned into the education effort and have worked to expand the coalition of entities working to drive these illicit operations out of business including broader collaboration with the Department of Labor and the real estate community.

“We are thankful for the additional powers that the Legislature and the Governor provided OCM to expand our ability to enforce the Cannabis Law earlier this year. We have developed regulations to govern our administrative hearings through which fines are sought and levied against unlicensed cannabis businesses, and continued to fine tune the administrative hearing process over the last few months to reduce inefficiencies and increase efficacy which has proven to be challenging.”

On the subject of distressed farmers, Alexander emphasised that the State needs more retail shelves for farmers’ products, and that the OCM intends to work to expand New York’s Growers Showcases.

“Our farmers are also being transitioned currently to either micro or mixed light licenses allowing them to have more grow cycles and access to the retail business, should they choose to pursue the micro licenses,” Alexander commented.

“The Office will be launching the distressed farmer transition programme in the coming weeks to support our small farmers as they expand their businesses.”

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