New York Senate Passes Gray Market Cannabis Bill

New York Senate Passes Gray Market Cannabis Bill
High Times

The New York Senate voted this week to approve a bill to crack down on the state’s cannabis gray market, giving regulators the authority to seize illicit weed and increasing fines for unlicensed operators. State Senator Liz Krueger introduced the measure on Sunday and by Wednesday, the Senate had voted to approve the bill, offering an indication of the legislature’s interest in addressing New York’s unregulated pot market before legal sales of recreational cannabis begin later this year. Justin Flagg, a spokesperson for Krueger, said that the bill is designed to empower the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and the Department of Taxation and Finance to address unregulated cannabis retailers, which have become brazenly ubiquitous in Manhattan and other areas since state lawmakers legalized adult-use cannabis last year. The OCM is currently working to establish rules for the regulated market, which should begin licensed recreational cannabis sales by the end of 2022. “This bill is aimed at gray market operators such as retail cannabis stores that have emerged during the period after legalization but before licensed businesses begin operating,” Flagg said in an email quoted by Syracuse.com.  Flagg added that Krueger drafted the legislation with cooperation from OCM and the tax and finance department, noting that their action was “prompted by the difficulty of enforcement against several illegal cannabis stores that have been hard to shut down under the existing statute.” The bill gives the OCM the authority to seize illicit cannabis and expands the authority of the Taxation and Finance Department to assess fines against unlicensed cannabis operators. The measure also doubles civil penalties for anyone who knowingly possesses illicit pot, which is defined as taxable cannabis products for which no tax has been paid. Flagg clarified that the legislation applies to any cannabis product that was…

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