Cannabis Crack Down NYC

Illegal Cannabis Sales in NYC - LI Cannabis Tours

Following raids on marijuana shops, some question emergency enforcement rules

Police Cracking Down on Illegal Marijuana Shops in NYC - LI Cannabis Tours
  • Published: Dec. 21, 2022, 7:30 a.m.

By  Sean Teehan |

When a woman breezed into Manhattan CBD shop Popped NYC on Dec. 7, co-owner Evan Forsch said he didn’t initially notice the four police officers flanking her.

She identified herself as an official with New York’s Office of Cannabis Management, and said the group was there to search the store. Officers patted Forsch down for weapons, told him to put his phone where they could see it, and started ruffling around the shop’s inventory.

“I didn’t realize it at first, but they were bagging things up,” Forsch said.

By the time his wife and co-owner, Lauren Forsch, arrived, nine law enforcement officers wearing bulletproof vests were searching the premises, and told the couple that Popped NYC was on a list of stores allegedly selling unlicensed cannabis. And because Popped NYC holds a hemp license, state officials may conduct a search without a warrant.

Lauren and Evan Forsch told NY Cannabis Insider that they were selling some weed products without a license, and that officials confiscated those products, in addition to hemp flower (they declined to specify what products were confiscated, or the total value).

However, they said the enforcement blindsided them, as the city and state have been tolerating storefronts openly selling weed in NYC for more than a year.

The OCM conducted a number of raids on shops allegedly selling illicit weed since the Cannabis Control Board unanimously approved emergency enforcement regulations on Nov. 21 with no discussion. That was the same meeting during which the board also approved the state’s first cannabis retail licenses.

And while cannabis industry players across the board agree shutting down grey market operations – many of which are selling products containing harmful contaminants – is critical to building a legal market, some wonder why the board voted on enforcement regulations in such a low-key way, and whether businesses that hold hemp licenses are being targeted for raids.

“It’s alarming to me that there was such little fanfare made over the emergency rules,” said Paula Collins, an attorney who represents the Forschs and other cannabis businesses. “What is alarming to me also, is that it’s haphazard … what puts you on a list, and what keeps you safe? I wish we knew.”

Clamping down

OCM spokesperson Freeman Klopott told NY Cannabis Insider that the agency is indeed working with law enforcement and taking action to tamp down illegal weed sales.

“From Buffalo to New York City, the Office of Cannabis Management and law enforcement agencies have worked together to stop illegal activity throughout the State,” Klopott said in an email.

“These efforts have included the seizure of products, the issuance of cease and desist letters, and removal of trucks used for the illicit sale of cannabis, and we will continue to enforce the law to end their operations.”

Klopott declined to specify how many stores have been raided, the amount of product officials have confiscated or whether business owners who were raided are still eligible for cannabis business licenses.

OCM’s enforcement codes seem pretty run-of-the-mill for a state regulatory agency, said Jason Klimek, an attorney for law firm Barclay Damon, where he co-leads the cannabis team. Enforcement is imperative to create a safe and legal cannabis market, he said, because it can help prevent bad actors from selling products made with toxic additives to unsuspecting customers.

“You would expect that the regulatory agency … would be able to come in, they would be able to investigate, and they would be able to enforce,” Klimek said.

Cannabis Crackdown in NYC – Fox 5 Video

Emergency measures

Most regulations that state agencies in New York impose have to go through a 60-day comment period before a bureau like OCM can enforce them, but emergency regulations – like those approved by the CCB last month – are temporary measures (effective for 90 days) that are immediately active.

The emergency enforcement rules give the OCM the right to investigate licensed and unlicensed businesses that officials believe are selling weed illegally. The rules outline what evidence OCM can compel investigation targets to produce, possible penalties for different categories of offenses, and what recourse business owners have in disputing charges.

Under the enforcement rules, anyone who submits a license application submits to inspections, which may be carried out by “duly authorized representatives of the Office, by any peace officer acting pursuant to their special duties, or by a police officer.”

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Businesses in violation of OCM rules could face one or more civil penalties including fees or fines, suspension, revocation of a license, seizure or quarantine of product, and referral to state or local, civil or criminal investigative or enforcement entities.

Even though most of the enforcement rules seem reasonable to Klimek, there are a few things that caught his eye about the regulations and how CCB approved them.

For example: a section that lists reasons for which OCM could take action against a licensed business includes “the financial management of the licensee, including the financial solvency status of the licensee.”

That’s jarring to Klimek, because legal weed businesses have to fulfill a slate of regulatory rules and pay taxes while competing with unregulated businesses that don’t have to abide by either of those requirements – a situation that could easily lead to periods of insolvency. Additionally, it’s likely that businesses in a newly legalized industry will make errors.

“It is concerning, because even out west we’re seeing now that a lot of these farms and licensees go out of business because the markets aren’t conducive to them continuing to operate,” Klimek said. “Could something look negligent, but was completely unintentional or maybe unknown to the farmer? Does that lay the groundwork for revocation?”

Klimek also noted that the CCB discussed some regulatory packages – like the proposed rules on packaging and marketing – pretty thoroughly, but the board seemed to slide in the enforcement regulations with as little discussion as possible.


Lauren Forsch, co-owner of Popped NYC, doesn’t contest that her store was selling weed without a license. But she said the practice seemed more or less acceptable – competing stores that were openly selling weed were left alone for months.

“I can’t say that we were targeted unfairly … we want to cooperate,” she said. “We just didn’t want to get left out, seeing people with more resources than us thriving while we’re struggling.”

The store previously received a cease and desist order from OCM, but Forsch said they had thought the letter was fake. When she made a records request for businesses to whom OCM issued cease and desist letters, Popped NYC was not on the list, she said. Additionally, she was aware that an online scammer had created a website that appeared to offer online shopping for Popped NYC, but really just took the credit card information of victims who believed they were paying for weed for pickup at the store.

The raid quashed any doubt that OCM was watching Popped NYC, and both Lauren and Evan Forsch say they’re no longer selling illegal products, and that they plan to repurpose some of the store’s space as an incubator for early-stage cannabis businesses. However, it’s unclear whether the raid will prevent them from getting a dispensary license when they apply.

In Collins’ opinion, OCM should start issuing transitional licenses to businesses that have sold weed illegally, but want to comply with regulations and operate a licensed enterprise.

Dina Browner, a California-based weed entrepreneur whose West Hollywood medical dispensary was raided by federal agents multiple times, said that rather than taking the “whack-a-mole” approach of raiding unlicensed weed vendors, authorities should focus on landlords.

“If they keep enforcing by just going in and taking people’s product, they’re just going to open somewhere else; what they really need to do is have it so that if the landlord is caught renting space to these businesses, they can lose their buildings,” Browner said. “That’s what they did in California, and that’s what stopped it.”

In any event, the fact that the Forsch’s reported that OCM and law enforcement officials who raided Popped NYC were civil and polite is an improvement from federal authorities who raided her store at gunpoint, Browner said.

“Federal raids are a whole different animal from local enforcement,” said Browner, who added that federal agents seemed to destroy as much property as possible each of the three times they raided her store.

Cannabis Information NYS

Cannabis Questions in NYS - LI Cannabis Tours

Marijuana Regulations and Taxation Act

The Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) was signed into law on March 31, 2021 legalizing adult-use cannabis (also known as marijuana, or recreational marijuana) in New York State. The legislation created a new Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) governed by a Cannabis Control Board to comprehensively regulate adult-use, medical, and hemp cannabis. The OCM will issue licenses and develop regulations outlining how and when business can participate in the new industry.

Marijuana Legalization Questions in NYS - LI Cannabis Tours
Marijuana Legalization Questions in NYS – LI Cannabis Tours

Legal Adult Use and Possession of Cannabis in New York

It is now legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to three ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis for personal use in New York. Adults may smoke or vape cannabis wherever smoking tobacco is allowed under the smoke-free air laws, with a few exceptions.

Cannabis use is not allowed in motor vehicles (even if they are parked) or in outdoor dining areas at restaurants. Smoking or vaping cannabis in prohibited areas may result in a civil summons and fine.

It is still against the law for people younger than 21 years old to possess, sell or use any amount of cannabis. Also, no one may legally possess more than three ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis, sell any amount without a license, or drive while under the influence or impaired by cannabis.

After legal sales begin and home cultivation begin:

  • Adults will be allowed to purchase cannabis products at licensed retailers.
  • Adults will be allowed to grow three cannabis plants at home. Homes with more than one adult will be allowed to grow six plants (three mature and three immature plants).
  • Adults will be allowed to store up to five pounds of cannabis in their home.
  • Cities and towns may have on-site consumption areas where people can use cannabis.

Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis has been legally available to New Yorkers through the State’s medical marijuana program since 2014.

People may be eligible to use medical cannabis to treat their health condition if a state-registered health care provider certifies that medical cannabis is clinically appropriate. Patients must also register with the state to be able to purchase medical cannabis.

The new law expands the eligibility of medical cannabis, increases the number of caregivers allowed per patient, allows prescriptions for as many as 60 days (up from 30) and allows smokable cannabis to be purchased in medical cannabis dispensaries.

Once regulations are finalized, certified medical cannabis program patients will also be able to grow up to six plants at a time at home.

For more information about whether medical cannabis could help you, talk to your health care provider.

Federal Laws

Under federal law, cannabis possession and use in all forms remains illegal. There are a few FDA-approved prescription medications that contain cannabis-derived products, such as CBD, or are made with synthetic products related to cannabis.

For more information on the federal law, visit the FDA webpage on cannabis and cannabis-derived products.

Cannabis (also known as marijuana) is the second-most commonly used recreational drug in NYC, after alcohol. It can be smoked, vaped or ingested as a food or beverage (edibles), producing reactions such as a relaxed, euphoric feeling, anxiety and an increased heart rate.

The cannabis plant contains hundreds of compounds, including THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is a psychoactive compound that makes people feel high. Different forms of cannabis contain different amounts of THC and produce different effects. The more THC that a cannabis product contains, the stronger the effect.

Concentrates, such as dabs, wax and oil, may have much higher amounts of THC — 40% to 90% — than other forms of cannabis, which are usually about 20% THC. Concentrates can cause a faster, more intense effect than other forms of cannabis and may lead to an increased health risk. Cannabis added into food and beverages has a delayed and longer-lasting effect than smoked or vaped cannabis.

A person’s reaction to cannabis also may be affected by their age, height, weight, health status, medications taken, tolerance and what other food, liquids and drugs they have consumed that day.

Health Effects

The legal status of cannabis has made the study of health effects difficult. As more states legalize cannabis for adult use and medicinal use, there has been some increase in research on the benefits and risks of cannabis. However, the study of cannabis remains restricted by its classification as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government.

The below information is based on studies that have provided strong evidence of how cannabis can impact health. However, at this time, more information is needed to better understand the health risks and benefits of consuming cannabis.


Cannabis has been shown to be helpful for some conditions:

  • Chronic pain in adults
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea
  • Multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms


Some people may experience immediate, unwanted reactions after taking cannabis. These effects can be due to taking a type or amount of cannabis they are not used to, or to taking multiple doses in a short time.

These reactions, which typically go away after the cannabis wears off, can include:

  • Temporary anxiety
  • Faster heart rate
  • Impaired reactions or distorted perceptions
  • Temporary panic, paranoia or hallucinations
  • Severe vomiting
  • Respiratory problems from smoking cannabis

Research has shown links between cannabis and some health risks:

Safer Use

Here are some tips to help you use cannabis more safely:

  • Avoid driving after use. It is unsafe and illegal to drive while under the influence of or impaired by any substance, including cannabis. No one drives better while high. If you drive while impaired, you are at a higher risk of dying in a crash or harming yourself and others.
  • Avoid using too much cannabis too quickly. Different forms and strains of cannabis can produce different effects and some are stronger than others. Some forms and strains of cannabis can have a delayed effect. For example, edibles can take up to four hours to feel their full effects. Start with a small amount and wait until you feel its effects before deciding whether to take more. Start low and go slow.
  • Avoid taking different drugs at the same time. Taking cannabis with other drugs, including alcohol, can cause unpredictable effects. If you take prescription drugs, ask your health care provider about the possible effects of taking them with cannabis.
  • Avoid smoking cannabis rolled or mixed with tobacco. There is no safe amount of tobacco use or of secondhand tobacco smoke exposure for those around you.
  • Talk to your health care provider about how cannabis use may affect other health issues. Cannabis may affect you differently if you have a chronic or acute health condition.
  • Be wary of synthetic cannabinoids, also known as K2. They are not cannabis. The effects of synthetic cannabinoids are unpredictable and may be different than cannabis.
  • Keep cannabis out of reach of minors. Children have mistakenly eaten cannabis that resembles food. If you have edibles in your home, keep them separate from other food and beverages. Keep all cannabis products in a secure place that cannot be seen or accessed by people younger than 21.

If you need help relating to cannabis or other substance use, contact NYC Well at 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355).


CBD is one of the compounds of the cannabis plant and a chemical byproduct of industrial hemp. Unlike THC, CBD does not induce a high or cause impairment. People use CBD for different reasons, but there is not strong evidence of its health effects.

CBD products that have less than .03% THC are legal in the U.S. However, CBD has not been approved for use in foods and beverages by the FDA, so it is unlawful in NYC to sell food or drinks containing CBD. The Health Department may issue violations to food service establishments and retailers that offer food or drink containing CBD.

If you are a food service operator, learn more about the laws on CBD sales.

Marijuana Legalized

NYS Legalizes Marijuana - LI Cannabis Tours

Recreational Marijuana Is Now Legal in New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana on Wednesday, making New York the 16th state to do so. Cuomo signed the bill a day after it passed in the State Legislature. Parts of the law went into effect immediately, as the New York Times explains:

Individuals are now allowed to possess up to three ounces of cannabis for recreational purposes or 24 grams of concentrated forms of the drug, such as oils.

By Matt StiebChas Danner, and Margaret Hartmann

Cannabis plants grow in the greenhouse at Vireo Health’s medical marijuana cultivation facility in Johnstown, New York. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

New Yorkers are permitted to smoke cannabis in public wherever smoking tobacco is allowed, though localities and a new state agency could create regulations to more strictly control smoking cannabis in public. Smoking cannabis, however, is not permitted in schools, workplaces or inside a car.

Other changes will go into effect in the coming months when officials create the regulatory framework that will govern every aspect of a brand new, highly regulated market.

The long-awaited legislation legalizes recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over. In addition to permitting the possession of up to three ounces for personal use, it allows adults to grow three mature and three immature plants at a time, and legalizes the sale of weed with a 13 percent sales tax — which the state expects will raise $350 million in tax revenue every year, in addition to providing some 60,000 jobs. New York residents will be able to smoke weed in public wherever cigarette smoking is allowed.

Crucially, the legislation also expunges the criminal records of people convicted of marijuana-related offenses. “My goal in carrying this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities,” the bill’s Senate sponsor, Liz Krueger, said in a press release.

Of the sales tax revenue, 9 percent will go to the state — of which 40 percent will go to fund education, 40 percent will go to support communities of color that have suffered the most from the war on drugs, and 20 percent will go to fund anti-addiction efforts. The other 4 percent of the sales tax will go to local governments. Though cities, towns, and villages will be able to opt out of allowing weed stores in their communities, those that elect to allow them will be entitled to 75 percent of the local share of the sales tax, with the remaining 25 percent going to the county. Applications for licenses to operate marijuana-related businesses run by women and people of color will be prioritized under the new law.

The law will also allow those who have sold marijuana illegally in the past to have a chance to gain a legal sales license, while limiting the permits for large multi-state marijuana companies already operating medical dispensaries in New York to four additional stores, two of which must be in underserved communities.

“This is a historic day in New York, one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” Cuomo said in a statement.

New York Will Legalize Marijuana By April And Regulate CBD-Infused Drinks, Governor’s Advisor Says

Marijuana Legalization in Long Island NY

Published 2 months ago 

on October 19, 2020

By Kyle Jaeger

Legalization of Marijuana in Long Island NY
  • The top marijuana advisor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) says cannabis legalization legislation will again be introduced through the state budget in January, with the goal being to enact the reform by April. He also previewed state regulations for hemp-derived CBD products, including allowing infused drinks and food items.

During an interview with Canopy Growth Corp.’s David Culver on the company’s recently launched video series, “Under The Canopy,” Assistant Counsel Axel Bernabe talked about how efforts to legalize marijuana in surrounding states underscore the need for reform in New York. And he said the legislation the governor will be introducing will serve as a “model” for other states, prioritizing social equity and economic development, New York will legalize marijuana by April and regulate CBD infused drinks governors advisor says.

But he also recognized that neighboring New Jersey may beat the Empire State to the punch, as voters are positioned to approve a legalization referendum next month.

“We’re watching New Jersey closely. We’ve always been confident that we get to this before New Jersey, so if they pass the referendum they still have to have agreement between the governor the Senate over there,” he said, referring to necessary implementing legislation that will need to be approved if voters pass the ballot question. “We’re working on this. We’re going to reintroduce this in our budget in January. We think we can get it done by April 1.”

That said, a top New Jersey senator recently indicated that lawmakers in the Garden State could pass the enacting bill as soon as the first week of November.

Over in New York, Cuomo has included legalization in his budget proposal for the last two years, but negotiations have consistently stalled out in the legislature, with sticking points such as how cannabis tax revenue will be allocated preventing a deal from being reached.

If Jersey can beat us to it, then they’ll get the gold star—but I still think we’re going to set the model here.”

Bernabe said he’s especially excited about the public safety and economic development components of the administration’s forthcoming legalization proposal. And he spoke about the need to ensure social equity for communities historically targeted by the war on drugs, adding that there will be some changes from this year’s version in light of other states’ experiences.

“I would say equity pervades the entirety of the bill. It pervades it on the licensing front, it’s on the revenue side and the use of funds and providing capital and loans,” he said.

Also in the interview, Bernabe talked about pending regulations for hemp-derived cannabinoids. While those who grow the crop for fiber, seeds and other agricultural purposes are covered under existing rules, he said the administration is “literally putting the final tweaks” on policies for consumer CBD products that will take effect at the beginning of 2021.

“We’re excited because we’ve taken the bull by the horns so to speak. I think people recognize that there are a lot of sectors or product lines that haven’t really had some thorough regulation attached to them,” he said. “You can pick a number of them but probably the most high-profile or obvious ones are something like vapes—so CBD or other cannabinoid extract vapes. Flower, even some tinctures, and foods and beverages.”

“How do you regulate that? What are the parameters around it? What’s permissible? What’s not?” he said. “We dug deep. I don’t know that we’ll get everything right. We had to make some calls.

The administration official offered an example of a regulation they’re likely to pursue that other states have avoided: creating rules for cannabinoid-infused drinks and food items.

“We think of this in terms of consumer protection. Those products are already out there. There’s no sense in trying to pretend they’re not,” he said, adding that one way they’re planning to ensure those protections is to set a maximum 25 milligram CBD dose per serving.

“We’re really doing it across the board on this,” Bernabe said. “We’re really looking at every product class and trying to strike a balance between consumer protection and letting people have what they’re obviously using extensively for health and wellness.”

As the administration finalizes those rules, the state’s hemp industry also recently got some news about broader regulations. Since a congressional continuing rider signed by the president last month extends the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program for the crop until next September, the New York Agriculture Department said it will similarly allow hemp businesses to continue to operate under the existing program until September 30, 2021.

“With so much uncertainty right now, we applaud the department’s move to extend these rules,” Allan Gandelman, president of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association, said in a press release on Wednesday.

For more information on our Long Island Cannabis Tour Packages, or to make Reservations, please call LI Cannabis Tours® today. Call us at (516)-420-TOURS / (516)-420-8687

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New York Gov. Cuomo says it’s ‘not likely’ recreational marijuana will be legalized in New York’s 2020 budget this year as the coronavirus outbreak is the focus in Albany

Hemp & Marijuana Tours in Long Island NY

Jeremy Berke Mar 31, 2020, 6:19 PM

Different Cannabis Strain Leafs - 
 Long Island Cannabis Tours

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that legalizing recreational marijuana likely won’t be included in the state’s budget, dealing a blow to the cannabis industry companies that have invested a significant amount of time, money, and resources preparing for the rush of the state’s millions of adult consumers into the legalized market.

Cuomo was asked by a reporter on Tuesday about marijuana legalization — one of the key initiatives he laid out in his budget address on January 21 — in his daily press briefing on the state’s coronavirus response.

“It’s not likely,” Cuomo said. “Too much, too little time.” 

The New York state budget is due on April 1. The state legislature must approve the package before midnight.

In normal times, the state budget is seen by lawmakers as a way to eschew the traditional, intensive process that bills must go through to become law by forcing key issues into the budget.

Last week, Cuomo said he was still intent on legalizing marijuana through the budget, but those priorities have shifted as confirmed cases of coronavirus and deaths mount in New York state. New York City has emerged as the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic in recent days, with one person dying as a result of the virus approximately every six minutes. 

New York exceeded 75,000 cases on Tuesday, with 1,550 deaths — up from 1,218 on Monday, Cuomo said. 

states where marijuana is legal - LI Cannabis Tours

New York state Democrats had tried to put adult-use cannabis legalization in last year’s budget, but negotiations broke down shortly before the deadline over how the tax revenue from marijuana sales would be spent. 

Many in the cannabis industry were hopeful New York would pass legalization this year. Legalizing adult-use cannabis  would provide a rare positive tailwind for an industry that has seen a wave of layoffs and executive turnover, and had the market caps of some of its most visible companies slashed by over 90% in recent months

Justin Flagg, the spokesperson for Sen. Liz Krueger, who, along with Rep. Crystal Peoples-Stokes, is one of the key voices on marijuana legalization in the New York state assembly, told Cannabis Wire the “plan B remains the same.”

“If it can’t get done in the budget in the middle of a public health crisis that is also a fiscal crisis, there is no reason the legislature can’t negotiate and pass a nation-leading legalization model when the immediate crisis is over,” Flagg said.

Cannabis is legal for adults over the age of 21 in 11 states, and a total of 33 states have some form of medical cannabis access on the books. 

For more information on our Long Island Cannabis Tour Packages, or to make Reservations, please call LI Cannabis Tours® today. Call us at (516)-420-TOURS / (516)-420-8687

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