New York rolls out plan to differentiate cannabis licensees from illicit operators

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In an effort to distinguish between licensed and illicit cannabis operators in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled a verification placard for legal adult-use stores to post on their windows.

The verification includes a QR code that can be scanned by consumers and others.

A similar version will be available for licensees initially launching sales in New York’s impending recreational marijuana market through delivery operations.

universal symbol on every product sold will also denote that state standards have been met, including testing.

“It’s critical for New York’s cannabis consumers to understand the risks of buying untested, illicit products and to have the tools to guide them to the safer, legal market that’s poised to open,” Hochul said in a news release.

“These tools will help to protect public health and strengthen our ability to deliver the equitable cannabis market our law envisions.”

Underground marijuana sales have flourished in New York for years, fueled by pop-up trucks and vans, bicycle deliveries and illegal bodegas and consumption lounges.

Given the legacy of underground sales, these types of verification placards have shown little influence in other established markets, including the nation’s largest in California.

In another move to combat illicit operators, New York City Mayor Eric Adams formed a joint task force charged with eradicating unlicensed dispensaries in partnership with:

  • New York City Sheriff’s Office.
  • New York City Police Department.
  • NYC Consumer and Worker Protections.
  • State Office of Cannabis Management, the chief marijuana regulator in New York.

According to Gothamist, Adams said that, over a recent two-week period, the agencies inspected 53 storefronts and seized more than 100,000 illegal marijuana products worth an estimated $4 million. However, such monetary estimates are often unsubstantiated.