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New York’s cannabis regulator sends cease-and-desists to illegal ‘gifters’

Over two dozen businesses in New York suspected of selling cannabis without a license have received letters from the state telling them to “cease any, and all, illegal activity.”

A sample letter released by the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) states that failure to comply could mean these businesses won’t be able to enter the legal cannabis market once licenses are awarded, in addition to criminal penalties, according to Albany Times-Union.


In New York, cannabis was legalized for possession and personal use almost a year ago, although the sale of the substance remains illegal except through the regulated medical cannabis program. OCM officials say it could be months until they can begin accepting licensing applications.

Some businesses are trying to circumvent the law by giving away cannabis for a “suggested donation.”


“The unlicensed sale or trading of cannabis is prohibited in New York,” said OCM director Chris Alexander on October 21, 2021. “While one adult is permitted to give cannabis to another under the possession limit, he said the that practice did not include “the idea of gifting that we have seen cropping up across the state where a seller claims to be providing cannabis as a gift after selling another commodity or service.”

Such gifting, his office clarified last Tuesday, is illegal under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. For now, those that wish to operate a legal, legitimate cannabis business in the state will have to sit tight.



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