WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WENY) — Stores that sell stickers and “gift” its customers with marijuana (a.k.a. sticker stores) are operating through a loophole in New York State law. Members of law enforcement and local legislature met this week with one goal in mind — to crack down on the increasing number of sticker stores “illegally dispensing and selling marijuana.”
“This has been going on since the New York State recreational marijuana program was put into place. This has been going on for two years now. We had legislation last year, that we talked about today and introduced again for this session already and we’re looking to move it forward,” said New York State Senator for the 58th District, Tom O’Mara.
Senator O’Mara said because of the loophole, there’s no criminal penalties for businesses selling stickers and “gifting” customers weed.
“We’ve heard from concerned people and law enforcement today, now with marijuana being legal — people are walking around the sidewalks smoking. Kids are seeing this, smelling it, it’s very distinct, and asking questions about what it is,” said Senator O’Mara.
Senator O’Mara said the edibles the sticker stores are selling closely resemble actual candy brands like Sour Patch Kids or Wonka candy. This leads to kids being curious and wanting to try the candy that’s infused with THC.
Senator O’Mara said there needs to be a lawful program for people and businesses to follow that “has unfortunately been woefully put together by the state. It’s taking forever which has helped this gray market.”
He also said if you’re selling tobacco, alcohol, liquor, beer, etc. you’d need a license. He said this should hold true to “individuals who are skirting the law.”
“We’re certainly seeing the negative consequences of the legalization of marijuana. Will they be greater than the consequences we have from alcohol and tobacco? That remains to be seen. But to do it unlawfully, and to avoid the taxing criteria for these – the state will lose out on whatever benefits it hopes to gain from recreational marijuana. It gives these stores when a legal store does come in about a 35% advantage over the licensed ones because the licensed ones will be paying taxes,” said Senator O’Mara.
Senator O’Mara warns about the dangers of sticker shops since they aren’t licensed and the marijuana isn’t regulated. He said you just don’t know what’s in it.
Sheriff Kevin Rumsey of the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office said the sticker stores candy could be laced with things such as fentanyl or other harmful things.
When Sheriff Rumsey was asked “At what point does the law outweigh the money the sticker shops are bringing in?”
Rumsey said “when it interferes with public safety. That’s one of the main things we’re here for.”
“You know, we don’t give somebody who has never driven a car before their keys and say here you go, just go drive. There’s a licensing process, there’s rules and regulations. There’s a test they have to take,” said Sheriff Rumsey.
There’s currently legislation in the New York State Assembly and Senate that would outlaw sticker stores and punish those who violate the law. It would need to be passed by leaders in Albany and be signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul.