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Local action urged as New York’s cannabis rollout, oversight issues persist

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  • Staff Report 

At a recent conference in Albany state cannabis leaders emphasized to county officials the importance of local involvement in regulating cannabis, including the crackdown on illicit dispensaries. Despite the legalization of recreational cannabis nearly three years ago, localities still face challenges and questions regarding implementation and the impact on their communities. Damien Cornwall, a dispensary owner and president of the Cannabis Association of New York, encouraged local officials to take initiative rather than relying solely on state oversight.

The state Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has been working to establish legal dispensaries and eliminate illegal operations, a process complicated by enforcement difficulties. Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed enhancing OCM’s authority and local governments’ powers to address these illegal dispensaries more effectively. The conference served as a platform for local officials to understand their role and the tools at their disposal to influence the cannabis landscape in their areas.

The discussion also highlighted the need for more education on cannabis laws, especially in upstate and rural communities, and the necessity of additional resources for law enforcement training. While the state aims to expand legal cannabis processing and sales, the pace of licensing and regulatory clarity remains a concern. Local officials and industry stakeholders underscored the ongoing challenges and the critical need for local action and state support to navigate the evolving cannabis market.

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