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“Gifting” marijuana. Is it legal? The state says no, at least one DA says yes

In an effort to get around the state’s marijuana legalization law, some so-called “grey market” sellers are selling innocuous items like bumper stickers and giving away cannabis with every purchase. Is that legal?


Under the law, retail sales are not yet allowed, but adults may gift cannabis to other adults. That’s the loophole the grey market pot purveyors are exploiting. They say it’s legal and according to a report that first appeared in New York Cannabis Insider, opinions differ. The state sent 50 cease and desist letters to what it said were illegal unlicensed sellers. The state said there’s no ambiguity in the law, but some prosecutors disagree.

Cannabis Insider contacted five District Attorneys on the matter. The Onondaga County DA’s office took no position on the issue, but says it’s not currently prosecuting marijuana cases. Erie County says gifting as it’s practiced by the grey market is absolutely legal and Albany County says it’s awaiting guidance from the state.


One of the complicating factors in all this is that the state has moved very slowly in creating the regulatory framework for marijuana sales under the law that took effect January 1. Governor Kathy Hochul announced earlier this month that the first retail sales licenses in the state would be granted to people with previous marijuana convictions.

On April 20, we’ll talk with Nate Kurash of FLX420 Magazine on Inside the FLX about this and other issues related to cannabis sales and use in New York.



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