From the nation’s capital, through its largest city, and all the way to the border of the US, we’ve compiled the perfect road trip to maximize all that lower Ontario has to offer, with stops for cannabis along the way.
We’ve aimed to compile the type of large, grandiose, moving experiences that pair particularly well with a cannabis vibe, but rest assured, these are but a small sampling of what Canada has to offer.
Before you hit the road
First and foremost, don’t drive high. It’s illegal, and a risk to your safety and the safety of others. None of these drive times are more than 3 hours, which leaves you plenty of time to toke and partake after you’ve arrived. So our first road trip tip is: obey the rules and travel safely.
Make sure you have all your needed directions, reservations and pit stops planned before you take off. A little bit of planning can save you a lot of headache down the road. However, this is true both for travel and cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! accommodations.
Some of these activities can easily be accompanied by a quick smoke sesh, but others might be more suited for cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! edibles, or a relaxing topical. And nothing is worse than having the cannabis you want but not the right accessories. Be sure to plan your items in accordance with the stops on your trip. This might include things like remembering your dab pen or other accessories like lighters, wraps, and vaporizers.
Ontario has so much going on, there’s no way to see it all in one trip. Even with everything planned down to a T, it’s likely that some things will be out of your control. Tourist attractions sometimes close unexpectedly, tickets often sell out. What you thought was open this season actually opens some time down the line… Don’t fret! Keeping in line with the spirit of a cannabis-forward trip sometimes means going with the flow. Take a beat, gather your headspace, and look for something else fun to do, it’s likely not too far away.
Ottawa – From the Capital
You’re starting in the nation’s capital, so you might as well see how it all works. What might appear to some as mundane actually holds a buffet of mystery and intrigue. The entire country is led from here. If you think that’s boring, it might be worth revisiting a few seasons of House of Cards to remind yourself what crazy antics politicians of any country get up to.
Canada has an incredibly lush history (for better and worse), and you’re standing at the center of it. If your sense of patriotism is waning, remind yourself that you’re in a country that legalized cannabis, and that alone is enough to celebrate (perhaps with a visit to an Ottawa cannabis store before your tour).
You’re standing where it all went down, so why not take a visit, be it in the house of commons or the senate. It’s an excellent primer for all of the uniquely Canadian sites you’re about to see on the trip, so whether you’re there for interest, intrigue, adventure or just plain old nostalgia, start at the heart of the Great White North.
The National Gallery
Now that you’re chock-full of national pride and admiration, it’s time to go see some of the greatest output Canada has to offer. Kick things off in high-class style with a visit to the national gallery. The building alone is awe-inspiring and quite fitting for the many priceless displays of Canadian genius housed within. Though the gallery features works from all over the world, its primary focus is on Canadian art and artists, giving it a unique lens that you’ll find nowhere else.
The synergy between cannabis and art is so well established that it feels redundant to mention here; we feel confident that it goes without saying. The setting alone feels imbued with a certain kind of magic and the artwork is already as elevated as you can imagine, so a bit of cannabis just feels like fitting in. Also, just a tip, this is a great setting for the slow, ongoing release of THC found in edibles.
The next leg of your trip is a roughly 2 hour drive to Kingston! Not too bad, and an easy enough trek even after a long day of touristing.
Kingston – To the Coast
You know what might be the only thing that pairs better with cannabis than art? Nature. This collection of 1,864 small islands is a short ride from Kingston, and features dozens and dozens of natural wonders to take in. If you have your passport handy, you can cross the Thousand Islands International Bridge into New York, or just take your time exploring the many things the Ontario side has to offer. This stunning, picturesque part of Canada is a true gem to behold.
There are few places like it in the world, and even fewer (if any) in the country, so it’s not to be missed! CannabisThis post contains affiliate links! pairs well with the lilting rhythms of the tide and restful vibe. Also, if you’re into the more thrill-seeking side of vacationing, there’s plenty to get excited about, be it on a zip line or a jet ski. Whatever your trip is craving, it’s likely to be found on one of these beautiful island getaways.
After your relaxing stop among the islands, you’re in for a beautiful 3-hour drive along the coast down to the big city. Just enough time to enjoy the views.
Toronto – To the City
Okay, large buildings that are famous for being large and little else are a common tourist-attraction trope (see: the Space Needle, Willis Tower, etc.), but let’s be honest, they are still cool, especially when they feature a revolving restaurant. The CN tower is an iconic part of Toronto’s city skyline, and it’s flat out fun to spend some time hanging out there while taking in vistas of the city.
If you’re going to do some high sightseeing, this is among the highest you can be. Also, for when the munchies hit, did we mention the revolving restaurant!? I’m surprised we aren’t having dinner in the CN tower right now, what are we even doing here?
If Toronto fancies itself to be the New York of Canada, then Yonge-Dundas Square is clearly meant to be Times Square. It’s the perfect place to visit after sundown and the lights are in full effect, the electric hum perfectly matching the pitch of a smooth sativa. And if you’re looking to grab some goodies while also experiencing a piece of cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! history, Fire & Flower’s flagship store in Yonge-Dundas square located in the old Dominion Bank Building is the perfect place to make a pit stop.
Once the munchies set in, there are countless restaurants nearby to sample, or you can grab some snacks and people watch. The city at night can be a spectacle all on its own, and the square is a perfect launching point to all kinds of other attractions in the city. A must-see if you’ve never been.
Art Gallery of Ontario
Yes, we’re recommending you go to two(!) art museums. Why? Because cutting edge art is super cool, that’s why. It’s like if you’re in New York, it’s worth it to see both The Met and MoMA. Both offer completely different experiences. First appreciate the classics, then go see the newest model, ya know? The Art Gallery of Ontario is also a 15-minute walk from Yonge-Dundas square, mentioned above, so it makes for a great continuation to your day without too much transit in between.
Next stop, London (Canada), a 2.5-hour jaunt that shouldn’t weigh you down, even after all the driving you’ve done already. You’ve probably had some time to stretch your legs walking all over Toronto, so take this as a nice time to recoup and gather yourself.
London – A detour to Jolly ol’ England Canada?
From London, England, the home of Shakespeare is about a 2-hour drive away, in Stratford upon Avon. In London, Canada, the Stratford Festival is about an hour drive away, in Stratford, Canada. Clear winner? Canada.
The Stratford Festival is among the largest gathering of thespians in the world, and you won’t have to hop across the pond to see it. Each year from April to October, the area is host to dozens of performances from top theatrical talents.
If you’re staying nearby for the event you can stock up at a local store or use Firebird London for super-quick weed delivery — a great way to get in that Shakespearean headspace. The famous playwright is believed to have dabbled in the devil’s lettuce himself, so really, you’re not getting high, you’re simply aiming for historical accuracy.
Windsor – Arrival at the End
The Windsor Riverfront & More
What better way to end your trip than gazing out at the end of the country and beyond. The Windsor waterfront looks out over the Detroit River, beckoning you to further adventure. There’s plenty to do in Windsor as well, from the outdoor sculpture park, to the indoor water park, or countless historical sites in between.
The Canadian Aviation Museum is another odd stop that’s sure to lift your thoughts to lofty heights, daydreaming of taking to the sky as you toke up a cloud. If you used a rental car for your trip, you could always plan to fly back home from here as well, as Windsor has an airport.
With your road trip near an end, take some time to reflect on all of those awesome photos and memories!
One for the Road
Canada is an awe-inspiring place. This road trip will take you through some of its most popular attractions but doesn’t even begin to capture the country in full. We hope you enjoy this trip and take it as inspiration to explore future destinations!
Maryland Adult-Use Cannabis Plan Advances
Maryland is inching closer to a plan to set up its adult-use cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! market, after a few amendments were made to iron out potential issues.
Voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot referendum last year, legalizing possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis for adults, which will become legal July 1. But the state has yet to implement final rules regarding how the market will be regulated.
On Monday, Maryland’s Senate Finance Committee approved their chamber’s version of Senate Bill 516, a bill to establish the state’s adult-use market, with several amendments. The planned administrative body, for instance, will no longer be combined with the state’s alcohol and tobacco regulatory body.
The committee voted to create an independent Maryland CannabisThis post contains affiliate links! Administration to regulate the adult-use industry. It would operate separately from the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. Both the original Senate and House bills proposed including the Cannabis Commission as a division within the already existing Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, but that plan fell through.
Lawmakers also tweaked the tax plan. Instead of implementing a graduated sales tax, starting at 6% and eventually growing to 10% by 2028, growing 1% each year incrementally, the state would implement a flat 9% sales tax once cannabis becomes legal for adults on July 1.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the bill is moving towards its final steps before it can be sent to the governor.
Lawmakers need to approve the bill before the state’s annual 90-day session ends on April 10. “We need to get something along to the governor,” Senate Finance Committee Chair Melony Griffith said at the committee meeting.
The House version of the bill, House Bill 556, advanced earlier this month, which now awaits a full vote by the Senate.
DCist reports that both the House and Senate versions aim to address the problems associated with the rollout of the state’s medical cannabis industry. Maryland legalized medical cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! in 2014, but it was hammered with a series of setbacks. When the industry was finally operational, not a single Black-owned business was included in the first round of licenses, even though Black residents make up nearly one-third of the state’s population.
Maryland’s March to Adult Use CannabisThis post contains affiliate links!
Voters approved Question 4, or the MarijuanaThis post contains affiliate links! Legalization Amendment, on Nov. 8, 2022. The passage of this initiative amends the Maryland Constitution with Article XX which allows cannabis possession and consumption for adults 21 and older, starting on or after July 1, 2023. The amendment also instructed the Maryland General Assembly to “provide for the use, distribution, possession, regulation, and taxation of cannabis within the state.”
Two companion pieces of legislation to award licenses, regulate the sale of cannabis, and set tax rates were filed Feb. 3 in both Maryland’s House and Senate. Maryland Delegates Vanessa Atterbeary (D-District 13) and C. T. Wilson (D-District 28) sponsored the House bill and Sens. Brian Feldman (D-District 15) and Antonio Hayes (D-District 40) sponsored the Senate version.
An upcoming round of new licenses for growers, processors and distributors would roll out on Jan. 1, 2024 for social equity applicants, defined as those who have lived in or attended school in an area disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. Another round of licenses would roll out after May 1, 2024.
The plan would allow for licenses for up to 300 dispensaries, 100 processors, and 75 growers. Smaller micro operations would be afforded additional licenses for 200 dispensaries, 100 processors, and 100 growers.
Now, the Senate’s version of the bill will move to the Budget and Taxation Committee, before reaching the full Senate for a vote.
Renowned Cannabis Breeder Sues Company Over Termination
One of the most influential marijuanaThis post contains affiliate links! breeders in the world has filed a lawsuit against a cannabis company, alleging that he lost his job there due to the fact that he suffers from Parkinson’s disease and required certain accommodations.
Christopher Lynch filed the suit against Node Labs Inc. in a San Francisco court on Monday.
The complaint details Lynch’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s in 2014, and his dealings with Node Labs.
In 2017, Lynch “began work on the genetic development and breeding of CannabisThis post contains affiliate links! plants including, but not limited to ‘C. Sativa’ varieties,” according to the lawsuit. He ultimately formed Compound IP LLC, and trademarked the name, “Compound Genetics,” before entering into an agreement with Node Labs in 2019 to sell Compound IP LLC assets.
But by 2020, the relationship between Lynch and the company was deteriorating. According to the complaint, the defendants “were actively frustrating the purpose of the original Contract by refusing to provide [Lynch] with an accounting of the sales upon which [his] compensation was based.”
“Further, [Node Labs] had failed to pay [Lynch] his sales bonus. Defendants continued to actively frustrate the purpose and intent of the original Contract throughout the remainder of his employment and beyond,” the complaint says.
“Throughout Plaintiff’s employment Defendants used Plaintiff’s standing in the genetic industry to bolster the NODE and COMPOUND brand. Although Plaintiff was not required by his employment agreement to do so, Defendants demanded that Plaintiff make appearances, participate in interviews, and market the brand using his name and likeness,” the complaint continues.
In the lawsuit, Lynch alleges that, in May 2021, Node Labs CEO Lauren Avenius “attempted to minimize [Lynch’s] importance and future role with the company by telling a key investor that Plaintiff had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.”
After months of alleged disagreements between the two sides, the complaint says that Lynch was fired in December a week after filing “a complaint against [Node Labs] with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.”
“At the time, [Lynch] was on medical leave and [Node Labs] had locked [him] out of the company email system,” according to the complaint.
Lynch, who has bred some of the most popular cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! strains available and has teamed up with brands and celebrities, was profiled last week by Forbes.
“He’s the man behind some of the best-known strains on the market today including Pink Certz, Apples & Bananas, Khalifa Mints, Blueberry Banana, Fish Scale, Eye Candy, and more. Alchemizing new flavors using rare, hard-to-find genetics is his bread-and-buttter. Lynch’s strain Pink Certz won 2022 Strain of the Year from High Times. The year prior, High Times deemed Lynch one of the 100 most influential people in cannabis. Pink Certz also won First Place at the 2022 Transbay Challenge III.” Forbes said.
“His success has been hard-fought. Lynch was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s in 2014 after he had brain surgery to remove a cerebellum cyst located inside the back of his head.”
“Life is precious, be grateful for what you have,” Lynch told Forbes. “Your life can change overnight. Don’t wait to pursue your dreams and goals.”
The profile details how Lynch got into cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! after he “dropped out of high school his sophomore year and moved to Amsterdam in 2004 and Rotterdam in 2005.”
“During his time in Holland, Lynch immersed himself in the cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! culture and learned a tremendous amount. He brought that knowledge back to Portland, Oregon, where he began his career growing medical marijuanaThis post contains affiliate links!,” the story said.
Man Who Stabbed Hemp Store Clerk To Face Death Penalty
Charles Michael Haywood, 22, appeared before a judge on Monday, March 27, and will be charged with capital murder for the fatal stabbing of a woman working at a hemp store in North Carolina last year.
Margaret Bracey, who was 42, was working alone at Exotic Hemp Company when Haywood barged into the store. Security footage shows what appears to be Haywood asking her about products before pulling out a knife and demanding her to empty the register. Then he stabbed her multiple times and killed her even though she complied with his demands.
WECT reports that District Attorney Ben David says the State of North Carolina is seeking the death penalty for a man charged in the fatal stabbing of a woman who worked at a hemp store last August. WWAY reports Superior Court Judge Dawn Layton agreed and ruled in favor of the district attorney office’s proposal.
“This is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, given the facts and circumstances of what happened to Margaret Bracey that evening. It was also in the commission of an armed robbery, and done for pecuniary gain. These are all aggravating factors, where the state is empowered to seek the death penalty. Not every first degree murder is death penalty eligible, you have to have what are called aggravating circumstances. The judge agreed that based on the facts and circumstances of this case, it should proceed forward and Charles Michael Haywood will be tried for his life,” said Pender County District Attorney Ben David.
The arrest warrant details the course of events that led to Bracey’s death.
“Haywood removed the cash from the register and then attacked Bracey with the knife, stabbing her multiple times,” a Surf City, North Carolina-based detective wrote as probable cause for a search warrant. “As a result of the knife attack by Haywood, Bracey was killed.”
“Haywood cut his hand during the attack and was seen on video bleeding from his hand,” the warrant continues.
According to the arrest warrant, Haywood took about $750 from the register and put it in his backpack. Then he swapped out clothes to disguise himself as he left.
The attacker was turned in by his own mother after she saw his face on TV.
“[Haywood’s mother] brought Haywood to the Surf City Police Department where he was interviewed and ultimately arrested for first-degree murder and armed robbery,” the court document states. “While interviewing [Haywood’s mother], she advised that Haywood had returned to her residence with his shirt wrapped around his hand. [She] stated that Haywood entered the residence and showered. [She] stated that she checked on Haywood and found that he had a laceration to his hand that required medical attention. [She] stated that Haywood put the shirt he had wrapped around his hand into a trash bag and put the trash bag into the outside trash can.”
While Haywood was held in jail, he was denied bail.
The next court date for the case has not yet been set. District Attorney Ben David says he expects the jury to be selected among residents living in Pender County, North Carolina.
“Two of my prosecutors, Jason Smith and Amy White, are both going to be actually handling the case when it comes to trial. I was present at the scene with Jason, the night it happened, and we’ve all been working closely. That’s one thing I want to stress, you know, these decisions are not made lightly, we have over 100-years, worth of prosecutors, around the table with me and the lead investigators, when we have what are called critical case reviews.”
Center for Medical Cannabis Research To Open at University of Utah
The University of Utah recently confirmed that it’s starting the early planning phases to build a Center for Medical CannabisThis post contains affiliate links! Research. House Bill 230, which was passed by the House and the Senate, was signed by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox on March 15.
According to bill sponsor Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost, HB-230 will expand the state’s ability to conduct research and offer up scientific-backed information. Specifically in reference to the opening of a medical cannabis research center at the University of Kentucky in September 2022, Dailey-Provost believes it’s time for Utah to do so as well. “I figured if Kentucky can do it … we can create one in Utah as well,” she said, according to The Daily Utah Chronicle.
She added that previously, Utah legislators have been listening to studies conducted from out of state, rather than conducting their own research from within. “What we hear from providers, especially physicians, nurse practitioners, PAs who can recommend [cannabis] as a medication is that they just don’t feel like they have enough information to really confidently recommend this as part of a comprehensive health care plan,” Dailey-Provost said.
The main goal of the Utah-based Center for Medical CannabisThis post contains affiliate links! Research is to become a hub that monitors all research being conducted in the state, as well as “identify gaps in patient accessibility, and support researchers and going out and finding grounds, doing the work, talking to other states about what work is going on.”
Eventually, Dailey-Provost also wants the state to have a National Institute of Health-approved (NIH) medical cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! cultivation site. “There are only six in the nation that grow medical grade cannabis that is eligible for study by NIH grants,” she said. “I think Utah with its robust agricultural heritage, we have an opportunity to maybe be a center for meeting those needs for research being done at the National Institutes of Health.”
The passage of HB-230 also includes $650,000 to fund the Center for Medical Cannabis Research, which comes from the Department of Health’s Qualified Patient Enterprise Fund. According to University of Utah Associate Vice President Dr. Rachel Hess, they want to ensure that they do everything they can to help usher in this new era of medical cannabis research. “Obviously, everything can’t be accomplished in one year, but the legislature has really made a longitudinal commitment, so ensuring that the science that is prepared to go…can go in the first year and then staging subsequently after that are the key steps…to ensure that we really are able to deliver on the promise of this vision,” said Hess.
More importantly, the Center for Medical CannabisThis post contains affiliate links! Research will open up research opportunities for other universities as well. “I think that’s going to be really important to communicate with all of the institutions across Utah about, about this work that the legislature is sponsoring and then bringing together that community to form those collaborations to move this work forward,” Hess added.
The plan for the Center for Medical Cannabis Research’s year will begin with a focus on up-and-coming research initiatives. The second year will be an opportunity for researchers to begin planning ahead. Ultimately, Hess concluded that she’s very proud of the new opportunity. “We really feel like Utah can lead in many ways in this area and are just really proud of the forward-thinking nature of creating something like this,” she said.
While medical cannabis embarks on a new journey with the university research center, psilocybin is also taking center stage. Last month, a psilocybin mushroom bill was introduced in Utah, which would emulate regulations similar to the state’s medical cannabis program. It would allow psilocybin therapy to be legal for patients with qualifying conditions. “This is not for everyone, but if it’s for someone that is desperate (for help) with their anxiety, depression and PTSD—that’s pushing many, unfortunately, to suicide, I want them to have access in a way that’s safe, that we can regulate,” said Senate Majority Leader Luz Escamilla.
Ohio Law Enforcement Is Suing Afroman for Use of Security Footage Online
In September 2022, Afroman’s home residence in Ohio was raided by local law enforcement. While Afroman wasn’t home, his private security camera system recorded them searching his property as they rifled through his clothes and other belongings looking for drugs or other illegal paraphernalia. Afroman posted videos of these law enforcement officers on his social media channels, with commentary making fun of them as they searched his house. He even made two music videos using the footage entitled “Lemon Pound Cake” and “Will You Help Me Repair My Door.”
Now, seven Adams County Sheriff’s Department officers are suing him because of his use of the footage without their consent. According to the lawsuit, exposing people’s faces without consent is a misdemeanor under the Ohio Revised Code. The officers are also suing because their faces were publicly visible, which caused “emotional distress, embarrassment, ridicule, loss of reputation and humiliation.”
The plaintiffs claim that they’re entitled to Afroman’s proceeds gained from the songs, as well as music videos and live event tickets, in addition to his brand, which offers beer, cannabisThis post contains affiliate links!, T-shirts, among other things. In addition to this, they’re asking that Afroman remove all videos and photos that feature them online.
Afroman posted a response to the lawsuit on all of his social media channels. “Essentially a racist judge signed a fictitious false warrant, lying on the warrant, accusing me of kidnapping and drug trafficking,” Afroman wrote. “The warrant put the Adams county sheriff in a position to attempt to kill me. After the Adams County Sheriff. Burglarized vandalized and destroyed my property. They became thieves and stole my money. After they stole my money they became criminals. After they became criminals they lost their right of privacy.”
Afroman’s attorney, Anna Castellini, also issued a statement about their next move. “We are waiting for public records requests from Adam’s county we still have not received,” Castellini said. “We are planning to counter sue for the unlawful raid, money being stolen, and for the undeniable damage this had on my clients family, career and property.”
Law enforcement obtained a warrant to search Afroman’s home in August 2022 with probable cause that they would find drugs and drug paraphernalia. The only items that were allegedly seized were a vapeThis post contains affiliate links! pen, a few roaches, and thousands of dollars in cash. Ultimately they did not find any evidence of drugs or paraphernalia and no charges were filed.
The law enforcement officers claim they’ve become the subject of ridicule by Afroman fans, which has made it “more dangerous” for them to continue working, and have received death threats “by anonymous members of the public who have seen some of Defendant’s above-described postings.” The lawsuit claims that “Defendants’ actions were willful, wanton, malicious, and done with conscious or reckless disregard for the rights of the Plaintiffs.”
In Afroman’s most recent post on TikTok on March 24, he points out how Adams County is home to meth labs, but they chose to raid his home instead.
In December 2022, Afroman announced that he’s running for president in 2024. “My Fellow Americans, there comes a time in the course of human events when change must be affected,” Afroman wrote on Instagram. “That time is now. Americans are suffering, and the status quo is no longer acceptable. Inflation is out of control. The economy is in shambles. The housing market is staggering. Politicians are corrupt. Bad apples are allowed to remain in law enforcement, amongst our noble and brave officers.”
The self-described “CannabisThis post contains affiliate links! Commander in Chief” and “Pot Head of State” claims that he would tackle cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! reform and criminal justice reform, among other top priority issues.
New York Governor Unveils Plan To Address Illicit Pot Shops
New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday unveiled new legislation to combat the state’s persistent illicit cannabis operators. The bill, which already has the support of dozens of lawmakers in the New York Senate and State Assembly, also provides increased authority for regulators including the Office of CannabisThis post contains affiliate links! Management and the Department of Taxation and Finance to enforce regulations and close stores engaged in illegal cannabis sales.
“Over the past several weeks I have been working with the legislature on new legislation to improve New York’s regulatory structure for cannabis products,” Hochul said in a statement from the governor’s office. “The continued existence of illegal dispensaries is unacceptable, and we need additional enforcement tools to protect New Yorkers from dangerous products and support our equity initiatives.”
New York Legalized Recreational Weed In 2021
New York legalized adult-use cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! in 2021 and the first recreational marijuanaThis post contains affiliate links! dispensary opened its doors in Manhattan late last year. But so far, only four Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) retailers have opened statewide. Meanwhile, the number of unlicensed pot shops has skyrocketed, prompting operators in the nascent licensed cannabis industry and others to press state officials for action against illicit operators.
Under the proposed legislation announced by Hochul on Wednesday, New York’s tax and cannabis laws would be amended to enable the Office of CannabisThis post contains affiliate links! Management (OCM), the Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) and local law enforcement agencies to enforce restrictions on unlicensed storefront dispensaries. The legislation does not impose new penalties for cannabis possession for personal use by an individual and does not allow local law enforcement officers to perform marijuanaThis post contains affiliate links! enforcement actions against individuals.
“This legislation, for the first time, would allow OCM and DTF to crack down on unlicensed activity, protect New Yorkers, and ensure the success of new cannabis businesses in New York,” the governor’s office wrote. “The legislation would restructure current illicit cannabis penalties to give DTF peace officers enforcement authority, create a manageable, credible, fair enforcement system, and would impose new penalties for retailers that evade State cannabis taxes.”
The bill clarifies and expands the OCM’s authority to seize illicit cannabis products, establishes summary procedures for the OCM and other governmental entities to shut down unlicensed businesses, and creates a framework for more effective cooperative efforts among agencies.
Violations of the law could lead to fines of $200,000 for illicit cannabisThis post contains affiliate links! plants or products. The legislation also allows the OCM to fine businesses up to $10,000 per day for engaging in cannabis sales without a license from the state.
Elliot Choi, chief knowledge officer at the cannabis and psychedelics law firm Vicente LLP, hailed the use of financial penalties instead of jail time to help reign in New York’s illicit cannabis market.
“Governor Hochul’s proposed legislation is very much welcomed as prior efforts to combat the illicit dispensaries haven’t appeared to have much of an impact,” Choi wrote in an email to High Times. “We support the use of fines as opposed to incarceration to avoid recriminalization and a return of anything that resembles the prior failed war on drugs.”
In addition to fines for unlicensed cannabis operators, Choi said that penalizing property owners who rent to unlicensed businesses would also be an appropriate tool for the state’s cannabis regulators and called for an increase in funding for state agencies tasked with controlling underground operators.
“Landlords should not have any incentives to rent to illegal operators and should be financially punished for doing so,” said Choi. “Finally, both the OCM and the Department of Taxation and Finance need additional resources to enforce as the OCM already has enough on their plate getting the regulations finalized and corresponding licenses issued in a timely fashion.”
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