While New York works on launching a legal market for recreational marijuana, some entrepreneurs dove into a legal gray area by saying they’re not selling pot but giving it away while people buy something else.
Now, the state is saying they have jumped the gun and need to stop.
The Office of Cannabis Management said Tuesday it sent letters to more than two dozen enterprises it suspects of illegally selling weed. They were told to stop or face fines, potential criminal charges and risk to their prospects of getting a license once they are available.
“New York state is building a legal, regulated cannabis market that will ensure products are tested and safe for consumers” and will provide opportunities for people affected by the enforcement of now-scrapped marijuana laws, OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander said in a statement. “Illegal operations undermine our ability to do that.”
The state law that legalized recreational marijuana last spring doesn’t discuss such “gifts” but does allow “transferring, without compensation” small amounts of pot.
The agency wouldn’t say what entities got letters. Messages were left with several businesses that have gone public about providing weed in what they insist is a legal way.
Hempsol CBD owner Jim Mackenzie said Wednesday his shop in Rochester didn’t get a letter but will nonetheless stop offering a “gift” of marijuana to customers who buy a T-shirt or other garment — a deal he believed was legal.
“But I’m going to do what the state wants because my goal is to have a state (marijuana) license,” said Mackenzie. He feels the state would be wiser to get to know businesses like his shop, where he prides himself on educating customers about cannabis.
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