(WENY) — With the passing of the State budget, New York is moving forward with plans to crack down on stores that are accused of selling marijuana without a license. The state will now begin moving forward with levying major fines against these types of stores across New York, looking to shut them down.
“As New York State continues to roll out a nation-leading model to establish its cannabis industry, these critical enforcement measures will protect New Yorkers from illicit, unregulated sales,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.
Better known as “sticker stores”, these retail shops have been skirting state law by “gifting” marijuana with the purchase of an item, like a sticker. At this time, New York State is only granting licenses to qualified applicants who must have a previous marijuana conviction.
“Unlicensed dispensaries violate our laws, put public health at risk, and undermine the legal cannabis market,” Governor Hochul said, adding, “With these enforcement tools, we’re paving the way for safer products, reinvestment in communities that endured years of disproportionate enforcement, and greater opportunities for New Yorkers.”
Donna Brayton is one of the owners of Exotic Gifts, a retail shop in Horseheads that provides marijuana as a gift with purchase. She said she’d like to get a license to become a retail dispensary, but this isn’t possible because of the state criteria.
“We’re trying to do it as right as we can, hoping that that would help in obtaining a license.” Brayton said, adding, “It’s going to impact us because we’ll have to shut down, but we were hoping we’d be able to get a license before that happened because we want to do it the right way and they haven’t made it available to us.”
Donna explains her store has created local jobs and claims her products. She claims her gifts have helped some of her clients manage their addiction and get off using harder drugs.
“Our customers begged us not to close after the initial cease and desist licenses because they didn’t want to go back on the streets to get it,” Brayton said, adding, “I feel like maybe they should of a little more research into the different stores and see.”
Donna says the majority of her customers are everyday people, some even in their 60s or older. She feels having these types of stores gives an older demographic access to marijuana in a more accessible way.
“A lot of them are older; they don’t have the accessibility to travel an hour away to get it at a medical place, so it is a benefit for them,” Brayton said.
According to the new state legislation, the Office of Cannabis Management will start to levy fines of up to $20,000 a day. The agency will also be performing inspections of stores like sticker shops and will seek court orders to have them shut down unlicensed businesses.