There is a lot of confusion over cannabis sales in New York.
So much so that it’s leaving local communities on edge over what’s legal, or not when it comes to retail cannabis sales.
Last month, licenses began being issued across the state. That said, some regions were excluded – including Central New York – due to a lawsuit. While that lawsuit has prevented the state from issuing retail cannabis licenses, it hasn’t stopped would-be businesses from popping up in places like Auburn.
Cayuga County is considered part of Central New York. So, no licenses have been issued. That said, “I’m Stuck,” which popped up at 9 East Genesee Street in the city, labels itself as a cannabis consulting and marketing firm, while apparently selling cannabis products. I’m Stuck has locations in Lyons and Newark, too.
This type of operation has fallen into gray area for state laws. The state argues that it’s illegal. In fact, prosecutors in Yates County are pursuing an array of serious charges against a group of operators in Schuyler, Yates, and Monroe counties for selling cannabis products illegally.
Operators have been moving forward with plans to sell cannabis products for several reasons. First, they are watching other businesses do it. Whether legal or not, and there are some exceptions to the legality clauses being leveraged by state health officials, locals in the industry say rollout is taking way too long.
The City of Auburn says it’s watching this closely, according to The Citizen. For example, their reporting indicates that “I’m Stuck” didn’t go through proper city channels to put up the sign. Because the business isn’t ‘open’ right now, that’s as far as city officials can go.
It’s worth noting that the City did not opt out of the law, like other communities across the region.
That aforementioned gray area is known as ‘gifting’. The Office of Cannabis Management tells the Finger Lakes Times that it’s not a gray-area and 100% illegal.
Why? Gifting is only a legal exchange between people not businesses. Lawmakers are expected to debate and possibly vote on enforcement legislation during the next session. That begins in January, but advocates say they’d rather see that energy be put toward getting retail cannabis sales legalized and active across New York.
FingerLakes1.com recently spoke with a prospective cannabis operator. “We’ve gone through the proper application channels, but we’re not going to push anything,” the Monroe County resident explained. “We’re optimistic that this whole thing will play out by mid-2023, but I understand people’s frustration.”
He pointed to examples of legal cannabis sales in smaller markets. “You have native groups selling cannabis products legally, because they’re either immune to the state’s regulations based on status, or a lack of court rulings – depending on who you ask. But at the end of the day, they’re selling cannabis products and will have months, maybe a year advantage on those businesses waiting for New York to get through its process.”
The Cayuga Nation has been selling cannabis products and is moving forward with plans for a grow operation in Seneca Falls. They have bypassed the red tape created by the state’s Office for Cannabis Management.
It’s unclear where lawmakers stand on this issue. While some Republicans have come out and said they want to see stiffer punishments for those exploiting this loophole. They also admit it exists, and says it needs to be closed first. On the flip side, advocates say this runs contrary to the state’s mission of decriminalizing marijuana use and consumption. Criticism of New York State’s rollout of legal cannabis has also been plentiful.