To the Editor:
Since the legalization of cannabis in New York in March 2021, we have seen an onslaught of unlicensed cannabis retailers throughout the state. The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has recently submitted draft regulations for enforcement and the first dispensary opened on Dec. 29, 2022, with more CAURD dispensaries planned to open shortly. There have been crackdowns by municipalities and law enforcement in different areas of the state but there has been no consistency.
New York came out with the cannabinoid hemp retailer licenses in January 2021 but the licenses were not made available until January 2022. According to the OCM website, businesses selling cannabinoid hemp products (both online and in person) are required to obtain a Cannabinoid Hemp Retail License from the office. Being a licensed cannabinoid hemp (CBD) retailer from the very beginning, I have always questioned the lack of enforcement in the hemp program by OCM.
To support my concern, I searched the list of licensed retailers in just Onondaga County, where my CBD business is located, and found a total of 42 licensees, which not all may be actually selling CBD products. From my observation, there are more than 42 retailers in Onondaga County selling CBD products that are not licensed and I can safely say that there are more than 42 retailers in the town of Salina alone, which is located in Onondaga County, that are selling CBD and are not licensed. Could you imagine the number of unlicensed cannabinoid retailers that are currently operating in the state?
OCM recently released their annual report for 2022. In the report, they indicate that for 2022, the Cannabinoid Hemp Program generated over $860,000 in application and licensing fees. They are also proposing on generating $323,000 by the mid-point of the 2023 state fiscal year. These figures would be much higher if there was some actual enforcement in the hemp CBD retail business.
There have been other licensed businesses complaining to OCM about the same issue and it appears that nothing has happened. Also, OCM has continued to indicate their support for small businesses in the hemp and cannabis industry. But without any enforcement, small businesses specializing in just CBD and hemp products are struggling to survive among the many unlicensed CBD retailers. These unlicensed retailers range from smoke shops, corner stores, big-name drug stores, supermarkets, gas stations, hair salons, pet stores, and the list goes on.
In my opinion, OCM could have their enforcement team out getting practice with the unlicensed hemp retailers so they will be prepared when they begin the enforcement for unlicensed cannabis businesses. This would also show the existing licensed CBD retailers that OCM is actually supporting the hemp retailers in the industry and small businesses. Hopefully, the enforcement in the cannabis industry will be better than what we’ve seen for the hemp industry.
Owner, Syracuse Hemporium