NY Posts Emergency Rules To Seize Illegal Weed Operations, Attorney Questions 'Illicit Cannabis' Definition

New York regulators are not backing down from their mission to crack down on illegal cannabis operations in the state. The Office of Cannabis Management has posted new emergency regulations on unlicensed activities.

The move comes on the heels of Governor Kathy Hochul’s launch of an interagency task force including agents from the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and the Department of Taxation and Finance to seize unlicensed marijuana products and shut down unlicensed shops in New York City.

The emergency rules follow up on a recently approved measure that would allow state authorities to shut down illegal pot shops and levy fines of up to $200,000.

What Is 'Illicit Cannabis'

Paula Collins, of Law Office of Paula Collins, PLLC questions the new rules and meaning of “illegal cannabis,” specifically referring to the signs being posted on storefronts with big red letters saying “ILLICIT CANNABIS SEIZED.”

What seems to be the problem? According to Collins, part of the enforcement legislation defines “illicit cannabis” as products for which no taxes have been paid. “New York tax law, which is the chapter the legislation is referring to, does not apply to products brought in from out of state,” Collins writes. “Unless the weed that is seized was grown in New York on non-Native land, it is technically not illicit, according to the language in Part UU.”

Collins said consumers are turning to illegal pot shops not only out of habit or prices, but beacuse of lack of options. “There are 12 licensed entities right now, in varying stages of operation. A person can drive hundreds of miles and still not be in proximity of a New York state-licensed retail dispensary. And at the rate we are going, with the state opening 2.4 pot shops per month, it will take over ten years to open the 300 CAURD-licensed locations.” 

Photo: Courtesy of OCM

Revised Regulations Summary

The revised adult-use cannabis regulations have a “posting” date of June 14th, with the comment period ending July 31, which means they should appear in the New York Register on Wednesday. Section 133.23, Actions Related to Unlicensed Activities, was posted on June 6 as part of the upgraded enforcement powers given to OCM via a measure that passed as part of the New York State budget that passed in May.

Under these rules, “The Office may issue a notice of violation and order to cease unlicensed activity to any person, as defined in section 40-a of the Cannabis Law, who is cultivating, processing, distributing or selling cannabis, cannabis product, cannabinoid hemp or hemp extract product, or any product marketed or labeled as such in this state, or engaging in an indirect retail sale, without obtaining the appropriate registration, license, or permit therefor.”

Those who receive the notice must cease the operations. Marijuana and noncompliant hemp products may be confiscated. What’s more, “Office may affix a copy of such notice of violation and order to cease unlicensed activity on the front window, door, or exterior wall of the location where such activity is taking place.” Removal of such notice carries a $5,000 fine.

The notice also leads to a hearing that should be scheduled in less than fifteen days from the date of the notice. Potential penalties and fines will be decided at a hearing.

Feature photo: Benzinga edit with images by Leeloo Thefirst and Jess Loiterton on Pexels




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Posted In: CannabisNewsMarketsilegal cannabis New Yorkillicit cannabisNew York CannabisPaula Collins
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