In a new ruling, the New York State Cannabis Board ruled that giving away marijuana samples is illegal. The board stated that while it’s legal to give out cannabis products for free and without charge outside of dispensaries, people can’t do so under an agreement with another entity such as a dispensary or collective. People will still be able to share their own excess marijuana with friends but they cannot receive payment in return for them.

New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a cease-and-desist order against the New York Cannabis Board, claiming that their distribution of free samples violated state law. The board argues that they are operating within the bounds of the law because only marijuana used for medical purposes is available to patients through them.A New York City cannabis board has declared that giving out free marijuana samples is illegal and can lead to arrests. The decision comes as a result of pressure from the Mayor’s office, which rejects the notion of “free” pot.

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WXXI (Rochester, NY) — Businesses who give out marijuana as a promotion with the purchase of a pricey T-shirt, lighter, or other item are breaching the law, according to the director of the state’s Cannabis Control Board.

During a meeting last week, Tremaine Wright, a former state Assembly member who now leads the regulatory group overseeing New York’s fledgling marijuana business, addressed the increasingly widespread practice.

“In New York State, there is no gray market,” Wright added. “This behavior is illegal and must be stopped.” Individuals who refuse to stop face serious financial penalties.”

He didn’t go into detail about why “serious financial penalties” may be imposed, but he did say that anybody selling marijuana goods in unregistered dispensaries, pop-up shops, or markets isn’t licensed, and “they aren’t providing safe, tested products.”

CITY featured an item last month on HempSol CBD, a Henrietta company that was providing a “free” eighth of an ounce of marijuana with the purchase of a $65 T-shirt. The shop’s proprietor argued that the promotional “gift” was allowed under the state’s recreational cannabis legislation, which permits people to freely give each other up to three ounces of cannabis.

Marijuana “gifting” arrangements have become frequent in the city’s CBD and smoke shops since the article’s release.

Jim Mackenzie, the proprietor of HempSol CBD, said he’s consulting with his attorney and refused to comment for this article.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which was passed into law on March 31, made it lawful for anybody over the age of 21 to possess marijuana. It also authorized controlled cannabis sales, with the term “regulated” being the key phrase.

Legal, regulated, taxable transactions may only begin if the state establishes laws controlling such sales and the entities that make them, according to the statute. Only Native American reserve dispensaries are exempt from this regulation, and the state has been sluggish to respond.

Meanwhile, businesses are using “gifting” to acquire a head start in the new sector. Weed businesses with their own logos have sprung up all around the state. In Rochester and around the state, pop-up cannabis events have become a weekly occurrence. Local governments have been seeking for direction in the meanwhile.

Jason Klimek, who co-leads the cannabis team at legal firm Barclay Damon, has long been suspicious of companies “gifting.” He added the words from the state’s Cannabis Control Board’s chairman should put any doubts about the practice to rest.

Klimek remarked, “It was very foreseeable that this would be the conclusion.” “The chair stressed the importance of consumer safety. It was excellent of them to say so, since there has been a lot of interest in this, and we receive calls virtually every day.”

The selling of uncontrolled concentrated marijuana cartridges, according to Klimek, is a source of worry for safety. After taking illegal market THC vape cartridges, over 2,800 individuals were hospitalized in 2019 and 68 died. Vitamin E acetate, which was detected in some of the cartridges, was identified as the source of the problem.

Many states, including New York, have passed new legislation prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes as a result of the epidemic.

The governor was given the authority to designate personnel to the state’s new Office of Cannabis Management and members to the Cannabis Control Board, which is entrusted with creating rules for the new business, under the legalization legislation. Former Governor Andrew Cuomo failed to do so before resigning in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, leaving Governor Kathy Hochul to start the process in September.

The district attorney’s office in Chemung County has admitted to discussing whether to raid a cannabis-gifting shop in the city of Elmira that is engaged in “gifting.”

Susan Rider-Ulacco, the executive assistant district attorney in Chemung, said in a phone interview Monday that no action has been done yet, and that receiving assistance from the state has been almost hard.

“We’ve been attempting to contact that state board with no success,” Rider-Ulacco added.

Local governments coping with the fast changing world of marijuana in New York, according to Rider-Ulacco, need advice.

“All we want to do is make sure we’re on the correct track,” Rider-Ulacco said.

Law enforcement, according to Klimek, is significantly more likely to clamp down on marijuana gifting now that the state board has taken a firm stance. He said that he would not be shocked if authorities pursued a major player in the near future to make a point.

“Perhaps law enforcement will participate at this point, and if they do, they will likely go after a larger operator to make an example,” Klimek added.

Klimek, a lawyer, says he takes a conservative approach to the law, which means he doesn’t want to see individuals push the boundaries at the risk of facing criminal penalties, financial hardship, or the inability to engage legally in the legal cannabis market in the future.

He gave some advise to companies who are presently involved in the marijuana gifting industry.

Klimek said, “Stop.” “That is my recommendation.”

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