As the cannabis legalization process in upstate New York moves at a slower pace than a stoner getting off the couch, industry officials are warning that unlicensed producers will continue to flood the market with weakened and potentially contaminated weed.
A recent study by a trio of cannabis trade associations from the three states found that at least 40 percent of products from a survey of 20 unlicensed marijuana stores in New York contained E. coli, salmonella, pesticides and heavy metals.
“Many of the products tested did not contain the amount of THC listed on the label — and in one case, they contained double the amount of THC listed. After reviewing the items under the state’s proposed branding regulations, 100 percent of the products failed,” the study said.
“Allowing these unregulated, illegal operations to continue with impunity will only exacerbate an already alarming public health trend, particularly among teenagers and young adults who are either unaware of or ignore the health risks,” she added. “Vendors offering illegal and potentially dangerous products that are readily and readily available on the gray market risk consumer safety and threaten public confidence in the adult entertainment industry before it even begins.”
The New Yorker expressed frustration with the state’s lengthy legalization process, citing the delay in finalizing pharmacy regulations and a minimal availability of licenses (legislators approved just 36 licenses statewide last week).
“This is 100% the fault of the government and legislature for failing to get the ball rolling,” wrote one commenter on Reddit. “We have to issue licenses before people can legally work, they literally just announced the first licenses a week or two ago. The law was passed on March 31, 2021.”
Another added: “We’re approaching two years – ‘It’s legal but you can’t legally buy it’ is a ridiculous idea and it brings with it all these problems like sub-par quality, potentially dangerous items inside, no regulation etc . Not to mention that no income is currently being generated. That income would really help somewhere, I’m sure.”
In Midtown, where gray market smoke shops thrive, there is no brand more recognizable than the infamous Weed World trucks, known not only for spreading the market with misleadingly advertised products, but for selling hundreds of thousands of dollars in parking tickets that led the NYPD to impound dozens of vehicles. Owner Bilal Muhammad has repeatedly claimed that his products contain only CBD (cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive component in hemp), despite many of Weed World’s signs purporting to sell “THC” (the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol). Selling CBD products still requires a license, which Muhammad confirmed to The New York Times that he does not own.
But in order to find a solution to Weed World’s Wild West, the town also seems to be struggling to clean the air. According to the Times, the mayor’s office resists active enforcement of legalization legislation, citing the specter of the drug war as a deterrent to law enforcement involvement.
Adams said in a news conference that “a police officer cannot just walk in and make an arrest or arrest or seize the item,” as the NYPD told the Times that “in his view, the Legalization Act does not give officers the power to make seizures or arrests.” to do if they see cannabis on display, or to close shops without a license.”
Other lawyers say the closure of smoke shops while legal licenses languish will eventually put thousands of workers out of work. Paula Collins, an advocate for smoke shops and weed bodega owners, told the Times, “We’ve got all these shops popping up, everyone’s worried, and at the same time we’re missing out on all this good tax revenue.”
In the meantime, it appears that New Jersey remains at the forefront of potent and purified product.